New York City Recovery Index: January 19

Editor’s Note: Below is the Week 24 version of the NYC Recovery Index, originally published January 19, 2021. Visit the NYC Recovery Index Homepage for the latest data.

New York City’s strong economic start in the first week of 2021 quickly faded last week as a rise in new jobless claims and an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations drove down the New York City Economic Recovery Index of 9 points. President-elect Joe Biden released his US rescue plan last week, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package aimed at facilitating America’s recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed by Congress and signed into law once Biden takes office, it contains billions in aid for households, small businesses, renters, cities and states.


New York City’s recovery comes in at 50 out of a total score of 100, according to the New York City Recovery Index, a joint project between Investopedia and NY1. Last week’s decline wiped out all of 2021’s gains, as what looked like a promising unemployment trend reversed sharply after New York City recorded an unusually weak unemployment index measure the last week. Ten months into the pandemic, New York City’s economic recovery is only halfway to levels of early March 2020.


COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise

The number of hospitalizations in New York continued to increase during the week of January 9, with an average of nearly 300 hospitalizations per day, compared to 261 average daily hospitalizations the previous week. This seven-day average is the highest since May 3 and is almost 10 times higher than the rate recorded on September 24. in the United States New York City has recorded a total of 536,000 cases and 26,104 deaths as of January 18. Staten Island, Bronx and Queens were the boroughs with the highest caseloads as of Jan. 1.

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The number of cases will be an important factor to watch as the distribution of vaccines continues across the country. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio have been criticized for slow vaccine distribution in New York as the virus surges. However, Cuomo said the Trump administration has not provided enough vaccines to New York, adding that he wants to buy more doses. directly from Pfizer. So far, 1.9 million vaccines have been distributed in New York and 671,311 people have received at least the first dose.Biden’s U.S. bailout will subsidize COVID-19 testing and vaccination programs across the country, contributing $160 billion to pay for a national vaccination program that includes increased COVID-19 testing and manufacturing more protective gear and supplies, among other things.

Soaring unemployment claims

During the week of Jan. 9, New Yorkers filed more than 10,000 more unemployment insurance claims than the previous week. This represented a much larger percentage increase year over year (299%) compared to the previous week (31%), bringing the measure back to late 2020 levels.

Future jobless claims will largely depend on the extent of potential future shutdowns in New York and how quickly vaccine distribution and development can take place. Johnson & Johnson last week said its candidate single-dose COVID-19 vaccine elicited an immune response and was generally well tolerated by study participants in early phase 1/2a trials. The drug company hopes to release Phase 3 data later this month before securing FDA approval for emergency use by March. If all goes as planned, Johnson & Johnson will supply the third approved vaccine in the United States after those made by Moderna and Pfizer.

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Meanwhile, the Biden administration has offered to distribute an additional $1,400 in stimulus checks to Americans to help offset the economic burden faced by individuals across the country.

Door-to-door sales remain a positive point

Home sales remained the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak week for New York’s economic recovery. Sales of pending homes, or homes under contract, increased during the week of January 9 and are up more than 60% compared to the same period last year. Across New York City, 510 homes signed a contract during the week of Jan. 9, up from 366 the previous week and 208 at the same time in 2019, according to data from StreetEasy. Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn all saw year-over-year increases of 63%, 90% and 46%, respectively.

Rental market still struggling

The New York City rental market continues to be more affected by the economic effects of COVID-19 than the housing market, according to the k-shaped recovery from the city. Vacancies reversed course and started to rise after a few weeks of decline. According to data from StreetEasy, there were about 39,000 rental units available in New York during the week of Jan. 9, up from about 35,000 the previous week. The number of rental units available is approximately 50% higher than one would normally expect for this time of year.

As part of Biden’s U.S. bailout, moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, which were due to end in March, continued through September in a bid to help those struggling to pay rent and their mortgage. By January 2021, 14 million Americans were behind on their rent, and another 11 million were at risk of foreclosure.

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Subway ridership slides

Subway ridership continued to decline in the week to Jan. 9, with the seven-day rolling average 70% lower than last year’s average, compared to 67% lower the previous week, according to data from the MTA.

The MTA said Jan. 19 it would postpone a decision to raise subway fares by 4%, citing a possible $8 billion aid package from the Biden administration. The MTA previously announced the potential fare increase due to the financial fallout from COVID-19.

Restaurant reservations continue to fall

Restaurant reservations declined in the week of Jan. 9, with the estimated number of seated diners down 91% from the same time last year, according to data from OpenTable. The negative trend accelerated with Cuomo’s Dec. 14 restriction on indoor dining and erased most of the gains made during the slight return to outdoor dining in the summer and fall.

More than 1,000 restaurants in New York have closed since late March, costing tens of thousands of workers their jobs. The Biden administration has allocated $440 billion of its US bailout to communities, including grants and loans for small businesses. However, the question remains whether this will be enough to keep restaurants afloat until warmer weather returns or COVID-19 cases decline.

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