There is no one way of knowing how long it will take New York City to regain its pre-COVID mojo. When it comes to a pandemic that left New Yorkers emotionally traumatized and financially strained, the city's recovery is multifaceted, coming in fits and starts as new variants reverse or slow its momentum.
THE CITY is tracking metrics that trace that tenuous path forward. These vital stats answer crucial questions, including: Are workers returning to the office, supporting local businesses and the city's tax base? Are tourists showing up, providing lifeblood to the hospitality and culture industries?
We're updating these charts weekly as government agencies and private analysts release new information.
The city lost nearly 1 million jobs within weeks in early 2020 as the city became an epicenter of COVID contagion and deaths. Pandemic-prompted shutdowns of all but essential in-person work sent unemployment skyrocketing from a record low of 3.7% before the pandemic up to 21% in May 2020.
Since then, the unemployment rate in the five boroughs has come in consistently at just under double the national rate. New data is published every third Thursday of the month.
Note: Numbers are seasonally adjusted.
Sources: New York State Department of Labor; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Subway ridership fell by more than 90% during the start of the pandemic. Three years later, it has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, though it has gotten closer. The chart below shows the recovery in daily ridership relative to a comparable day before the pandemic.
The numbers are shown as 7-day averages to diminish the effect of odd variations.
NOTE: Due to the increasing use of the OMNY fare-payment system, THE CITY’s original source of data – the MTA’s weekly turnstile numbers – no longer presents a complete picture of subway ridership. As a result, we’ve changed our data source to ridership numbers provided by the MTA. That data doesn’t include station-level figures, so we have removed the station lookup tool. If a reliable source of station-level data becomes available, we hope to revive it.
Remote and hybrid work appears to be entrenched, with the number of employees reporting to a New York City office on a given day stuck at less than half of pre-pandemic levels, as tracked by keycard swipes. That figure dipped even further during the late 2021 and early 2022 omicron variant wave, but then plateaued after a rebound. New data is published every week.
Note: We last updated this data on Dec. 5, 2023. You can see the most recent office occupancy data at the Kastle Systems website.
Source: Kastle Systems
The city's employment recovery is uneven — with a few sectors growing while others have lost a large chunk of their jobs.
Most severely battered is the hospitality and leisure industry — including restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions. But one winner was warehousing, like fulfillment jobs with Amazon, as people ordered online for home delivery, while binge-watching kept film and TV production active.
New data is published the third week of every month.
You can learn more about the jobs in each industry from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Note: Numbers are seasonally adjusted.
Source: Mayor's Office of Management and Budget
Hotel demand in New York City nosedived, with both business and leisure travel all but shut down. Some tourists came back in 2021, but at roughly half of past levels. The removal of vaccination mandates and pre-flight COVID tests have gradually lowered remaining barriers to international visitors.
Note: We last updated this data on Nov. 4, 2023. You can see the most recent hotel room occupancy data via CoStar's reporting.
Note: Recent month data is preliminary and may change.
Charts by Suhail Bhat and Will Welch, edited by Alyssa Katz and Richard Kim, lead photo by Ben Fractenberg.