Editor’s note: Below you’ll find the week 53 release of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published August 24, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery index homepage for the latest data.
New York City’s economic recovery index remained unchanged as of August 14, maintaining its score of 76, where it has hovered for nearly a month. COVID-19 hospitalizations rose, and restaurant reservations dipped, while most other measures stayed relatively flat and the city’s rental market made slight gains. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, New York City is still considered a “high” or “substantial” COVID transmission area.
As the city prepares to welcome students back to schools next month, officials announced on Aug. 23 that all teachers and school staff in New York City will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine, in a revision of earlier guidelines offering school personnel the option of vaccinations or weekly testing. Just days earlier on Aug. 20, Mayor Bill de Blasio had declared that student athletes will also be required to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, in the first vaccine mandate for students in New York City. The majority of students are not required to get vaccinations.
Meanwhile, The Independent Restaurant Owners Association Rescue responded to the “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate that went into effect last week with a lawsuit, arguing that the vaccination requirement is “arbitrary” because both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can contract infections. The case’s decision could have national implications, as other cities around the country begin to adopt similar policies.
New York City’s recovery stands at a score of 76 out of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Over a year into the pandemic, NYC’s economic recovery is now roughly three-quarters of the way back to early March 2020 levels.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Spread
COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to multiply as of Aug. 14, posting a rolling seven-day average of 110 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, 36 more than the week before. The CDC projects that over 86.4% of new cases in the New York region (along with New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are linked to the delta variant. A total of 1,018,100 cases and 33,736 deaths were recorded in New York City as of Aug. 23.
As of Aug. 23, New York State has fully vaccinated approximately 59.39% of its broader population, and is on pace to fully vaccinate 70% by October. In a national ranking of state vaccination efforts, New York State came in 14 out of 50 states, districts, and territories, according to VeryWell Health.
Unemployment Claims Grow
The unemployment index in New York City experienced a slight setback as of Aug. 14, as the estimated UI claims rate rose from 44% to 45% above pre-pandemic levels. While still far from a full recovery, the unemployment index has improved significantly from a year ago, when claims were 100%-200% greater, several times pre-pandemic levels. As COVID-19 infections climb, and new restrictions like the “Key to NYC” vaccination requirement take effect, many small businesses such as restaurants could be affected over the next few weeks, which could impact hiring.
Home Sales Slow
Pending home sales in New York City fell by ten units over the last week, but the overall home sales index did not budge, reflecting seasonal changes of a similar magnitude over the same period pre-pandemic. Sales were approximately on par with the averages earlier in January and February of this year, and are still red-hot compared to pre-pandemic levels. Sales in Manhattan are up 106% compared to 2019 levels, while Brooklyn is up 55%, and sales in Queens are up 3%.
Rental Market Near Full Recovery
New York City’s rental index jumped from just under 93 to over 97 this week, less than three points short of a full recovery in the second-highest score the rental market has reached since just after the onset of the pandemic last March. With lease turnovers typically peaking between May and September, some of the gains are seasonal. However, the season isn’t over yet, with September quickly approaching. If the rental index can continue to hold onto its current vacancy rates, it will have effectively recovered.
Subway Ridership Caught Midway
Subway ridership did not change as of Aug. 14, with the seven-day rolling average mired at the halfway point, 50% below pre-pandemic ridership. The measure has stayed at or near the 50% mark since early July. With several major companies in the New York Metro area announcing delays to office reopening plans, subway ridership could take longer than previously anticipated to recover, and could plateau at the same rate for several more weeks, possibly months. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) estimated a trailing seven-day average of over 2.2 million riders on public transport.
Restaurant Reservations Shrink
Restaurant reservations declined as of Aug. 14, falling from 50% to 51% below 2019 levels, according to OpenTable estimates. Like subway ridership, restaurant reservations have stagnated around the halfway point to recovery for several weeks, and could potentially face a prolonged period of stagnation amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, and the implementation of new vaccination guidelines.