The New York City Recovery Index: April 18
Editor’s Note: Below is the week 85 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally released on April 19, 2022. Visit the NYC Recovery Index homepage for the latest data.
The New York City Economic Recovery Index fell in the week ending April 9, 2022, from 76 to 74 points. Positive contributions came from higher home sales and rental vacancy rates, as well as an increase in restaurant reservations. However, a sharp rise in unemployment insurance (UI) claims and COVID-19 hospitalization rates weighed on the index, preventing it from posting larger gains. Metro ridership also decreased compared to the previous week.
Despite a federal court ruling in Florida overturning the mask mandates, New York City officials have kept mask mandates in place for the city’s public transportation services. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which falls under state jurisdiction, has kept in place mandates for city buses, subways and commuter trains, such as informed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey lifted mask requirements at Newark Liberty International Airport, with mandates remaining in place at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports. COVID-19 infection rates have declined significantly since the peak of the omicron wave in January, but cases have trended upward in New York and other states in recent weeks.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 74 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Just over two years into the pandemic, New York’s economic recovery is just under three-quarters back to pre-pandemic levels.
Rise in hospitalizations related to COVID-19
COVID-19 hospitalization rates rose for the fourth straight week as infection rates trended upward across the New York City area. The hospitalization rate rose to 38 hospitalizations per day, more than eight more than last week’s rate. The seven-day average is now more than double the post-omicron low of 18 daily hospitalizations recorded on March 12. However, the current rate is still low compared to previous pandemic peaks and roughly matches rates in mid-November.
Regarding new infections, the CDC continues to predict that 100% of new cases in the New York area (which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands) are attributable to the omicron variant. A new, fast-growing strain labeled BA.2.12.1 now accounts for 52.3% of new cases, compared to the old BA.2 strain which accounted for 45.7% of new infections this week. As of April 18, 77.9% of New York City residents were fully immune to COVID-19, according to data from NYC Health. Since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago, more than 2.3 million cases and more than 40,000 deaths have been recorded in New York.
Unemployment claims rise sharply
Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims increased significantly in the week ending April 9, rising by 690 claims from 5,120 to 5,810. This compares to a modest drop of 33 claims for the average moving average of pre-pandemic claims, following the equivalent week of 2019. The recent increase put the moving average of unemployment insurance claims 11.6% above the 2019 level. However, the claims sub-index unemployment insurance remains at a healthy 90 out of 100. The ongoing economic recovery and tight labor market could put downward pressure on claims in the coming weeks.
Breaking down this week’s unemployment insurance claims by borough, Manhattan and Queens have borne the brunt of the recent increase. Manhattan’s share of new claims rose slightly to 17.90% from 17.38%, while Queens’ share rose to 25.65% from 24.80%. Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island all saw their respective shares decline. Brooklyn’s claim share declined to 29.95%, while Staten Island and the Bronx fell to 5.34% and 21.17%, respectively.
Increase in door-to-door sales
Pending home sales in the city rose 70 sales in the week ending April 9, reversing the decline from the previous week and marking a positive in this week’s report. Weekly sales jumped from 723 to 793, with sales 76% above pre-pandemic levels. By borough, Brooklyn’s sales are 94.5% above the 2019 average, followed by Manhattan and Queens at 77.3% and 41.5%, respectively. The outlook for home sales remains strong, although sales may decline in the coming weeks as rising mortgage rates impact consumer demand.
Rental availability increases
Vacant homes totaled 13,518 in the week ending April 9, registering an increase of 411 residences from the previous week. The increase put the Vacancy Sub-Index at a score of 80 out of 100. The vacancy rate is now rising at a rate slightly above the seasonal average for New York City. Total rental housing availability, however, remains several thousand units below pre-pandemic levels and would require several weeks of back-to-back increases to return.
Metro ridership drops again
Subway ridership declined for the second week in a row, with ridership remaining 41.1% below pre-pandemic levels, as indicated by the seven-day average. For the week ending April 9, the MTA reported a seven-day average of 2.87 million runners. In a discouraging sign for the city’s subway, ridership appears to have plateaued at a level similar to the November 2021 pre-omicron average. Note that this week’s report does not reflect data on ridership changes at the aftermath of an April 12 shooting in the New York City subway. system.
Restaurant reservations rebound
Reservations at restaurants and catering establishments across the city saw an increase in the week ending April 9. The restaurant reservations sub-index is now 40.14% below pre-pandemic levels, down from 41.5% below 2019 levels the previous week. Total bookings are roughly in line with rates two weeks ago, after a drop in the week of April 2. The arrival of warmer weather over the next few weeks, as spring is fully gearing up, can be a positive sign for outdoor dining and the city’s restaurant industry as a whole. .