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How's New York City Doing?

Tracking our pandemic recovery

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 multi-faceted, 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.

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Unemployment

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 been stuck at just under double the national rate. New data is published every third Thursday of the month.

Unemployment rates in New York City and nationwide

Change in employees from February 2020

Number of jobs added each month

Note: Numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Sources: New York State Department of Labor; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Subway Ridership

Subway ridership fell more than 90% during the first few weeks of the pandemic, and two years later still hovers at around half of pre-pandemic ridership. Recovery has been strongest in Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx, reflecting changes in travel patterns as fewer workers head to offices in Manhattan.

The charts below show weekly turnstile entries at MTA stations compared to the weekly average for 2019. New data is published every Saturday.

Weekly subway turnstile entries

Note: Week-to-week changes may reflect holidays and seasonal usage patterns, while extreme shifts between 2019 ridership and current levels may be attributable to stations shut down for repairs.

Source: MTA

Return to Office

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.

Average weekday office occupancy in major metro areas

Source: Kastle Systems

Key Industries

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.

Change in sector employment from the same period before the pandemic

Sector Key

Note: Numbers are seasonally adjusted.

Source: Mayor's Office of Management and Budget

Tourism

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.

Percent change in hotel room occupancy from same month in 2019

Note: Recent month data is preliminary and may change.

Source: STR

Charts by Suhail Bhat and Will Welch, edited by Alyssa Katz and Richard Kim, lead photo by Ben Fractenberg.