New York City’s economic recovery progressed slightly for the week ending August 13, 2022, with the overall index score rising by one percentage point to 73 out of 100. COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline, albeit at a more moderate pace, while unemployment insurance (UI) claims fell. It was a positive week for both subway ridership and restaurant reservations, which reversed their declines from the previous week. Meanwhile, home sales are once again above their pre-pandemic baseline. A slight decrease in rental vacancies was the sole negative development in this week’s report.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 73 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over two years into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is nearly three-quarters of the way back to pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue to Fall
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City declined for the fourth consecutive week, with daily hospitalizations falling to an average of 115, compared to 118 recorded over the previous week. However, the rate of decline has slowed considerably, with hospitalizations remaining over six times above the post-winter-wave low of 18 recorded in early March.
Between July 15 and August 12, COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City declined by an encouraging 27.4%. At the same time, ICU admittances for patients with severe COVID-19 declined by 1.5%, while the number requiring intubation fell by 9.3%. This indicates that the number of patients with more severe health complications has not fallen as rapidly as the overall hospitalization count.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to project that all new cases are omicron-related, with an overwhelming share—87.9%—now attributed to the BA.5 subvariant. Meanwhile, the shares attributed to the BA.4.6 and BA.4 variants have fallen to just 8.2% and 3.5%, respectively.
The share of fully vaccinated city residents remained unchanged this week, with 79.3% of residents fully immunized against COVID-19 per NYC Health & Hospitals data. Since the pandemic began two-and-a-half years ago, nearly 2.8 million cases have been recorded in New York City, along with 41,459 deaths.
Unemployment Claims Stabilize
The number of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in New York City fell by 300 claims for the week ending August 13, totalling 5,990. By comparison, the 2019 rolling average of claims registered a rise of 137 and totalling 5,470. As such, UI claims are inching back closer to their pre-pandemic baseline, but remain 9.5% above 2019 levels. Reflecting this week’s improvement, the unemployment claims subindex rose by 6.5 percentage points to 91 out of 100, and it remains the second best-performing subcomponent of the aggregate index.
Home Sales Jump
The pending home sales subindex remained relatively unchanged for the week ending August 6, as both current home sales and the 2019 rolling average of sales declined by a similar amount. Pending home sales for the week ending August 6 declined by 30, to a total of 452, while the 2019 rolling average of home sales declined by 32 to reach 404. Pending home sales remain 11.8% above their pre-pandemic baseline, indicating that the index measure is still fully recovered. By borough, Brooklyn continues to lead both Manhattan and Queens in home sales relative to their 2019 baselines. Home sales in Brooklyn recently exceeded 2019 levels by 23.2%, compared to a 9.7% increase for Manhattan. Sales in Queens, on the other hand, are now 1.1% below their pre-pandemic baseline.
Rental Vacancies Decline Slightly
The number of available vacancies on New York City’s rental market surged for the week ending August 6, rising by 1,345 to reach 17,102. This marks the best result for rental availability since late December 2021. As a result, the rental inventory subindex rose by nearly six percentage points to a score of 86 out of 100. With this week’s gains, rental availability in New York City is about one thousand units short of the pre-pandemic level.
Subway Ridership Rebounds
The MTA subway experienced a slight rebound in ridership during the week ended August 13, with average daily ridership rising to 39.3% below pre-pandemic levels, compared to 40.8% down last week. The subway mobility subindex increased in turn rose to 61 out of 100. For the week, the MTA reported a trailing average of 2.65 million daily riders. Current ridership remains below levels seen in May and June, and is relatively unchanged from the pre-omicron-wave levels of November and early December 2021. Greater and more consistent percentage gains will be necessary for the city’s subway system to fully recover.
Restaurant Reservations Increase
Restaurant reservations throughout New York City saw an encouraging increase during the week of August 13, rising to 38.8% below the pre-pandemic baseline after falling below the 40% threshold last week. The restaurant reservations subindex rose to 61 out of 100 in effect, and remains tied with subway mobility as the second least-recovered index component. With the end of summer approaching, the city’s restaurant industry still has considerable ground to make up to recover customers lost due to the pandemic.
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