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The New York City Recovery Index: August 15 – Spectrum News NY1

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New York City’s economic recovery stalled during the week ending August 6, 2022, with the index score remaining unchanged at 72 out of 100. COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline, while rental availability staged a meaningful comeback. On the downside, subway ridership and restaurant reservations both had a negative week, while unemployment insurance (UI) claims ticked higher.
New York City’s economic recovery stands at a score of 72 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 Decline Further
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate in New York City fell for the third consecutive week, to 118 hospitalized people per day, compared to 130 recorded over the previous week. Despite recent declines, hospitalizations remain over six times above their post-winter-wave low of 18 per day recorded on March 12. At a score of 41 out of 100, the COVID-19 hospitalizations subindex remains the worst-performing measure within the aggregate index.
The CDC continues to project that virtually all current cases are omicron-related, with the dominant BA.5 subvariant contributing to 88% of new cases. Meanwhile, the BA.4.6 and BA.4 variants accounted for 6.9% and 4.3% of new cases, respectively. As of August 15, 79.3% of all New York City residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 per NYC Health & Hospitals data, a slight increase compared to the previous week. Since the start of the pandemic, a total of 2.77 million cases—confirmed and probable—have been recorded in New York City, along with 41,342 deaths.
Unemployment Claims Inch Higher
The number of individuals filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims in New York City increased by 220 for the week ended August 6, totalling 6,290. Meanwhile, the 2019 rolling average of claims, tracking the equivalent pre-pandemic week, rose by just 20 claims to 5,333. As such, UI claims are now 18% above their pre-pandemic baseline and no longer considered fully recovered, marking the second consecutive week that this has been the case. 
Home Sales Remain Largely Unchanged
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 Surge
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 Falls Slightly
Subway ridership experienced another negative week, with ridership falling to 40.8% below the pre-pandemic level, compared to 37.7% below last week. Current ridership is roughly in line with the pre-omicron level of November 2021. The MTA reported a seven-day average of 2.64 million riderships during the week ended August 6.
Restaurant Reservations Tumble
Restaurant reservations throughout New York City witnessed a significant correction during the week ended August 6, falling to 40.8% below their pre-pandemic baseline. In turn, the restaurant reservations subindex declined to 59 out of 100, matching the subway mobility subindex as the second worst-performing measure within the aggregate index currently.
New York City continues to lag considerably behind other major U.S. cities in the recovery of its restaurant industry, with about 40% of pre-pandemic diners having yet to return. Reservations at restaurants in Chicago and Washington, D.C. lag their pre-pandemic baselines by 27.3% and 26.3%, respectively. Los Angeles restaurants fare better still with a loss of 18.6%, while Houston restaurants have nearly fully recovered their pandemic-related losses at just 0.2% below their 2019 baseline.

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