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New York City Economic Recovery Index Methodology


The aim of the New York Diocese Recovery Index is to create a practical, weekly pulse-check of the economic progress of the city. We built the overall city recuperation index from components that align with the lives of New Yorkers:

  • Health
  • Transport and mobility
  • Jobs
  • Pint-sized business confidence
  • Restaurant reservations

As New York recovers from COVID-19, the shutdowns, and their economic repercussions, we count on each of these elements to return to pre-pandemic levels. To measure the pace of the recovery, we report indices for each component and sum them into an comprehensive recovery index.

We required the following criteria for a dataset to be included in the overall index:

  • Availability: The data must be come in reliably, at least weekly, and available to the public. There are multiple measures that we would have liked to comprise, but are only reported monthly or quarterly, and often with a significant delay. Specific examples here are housing reaches and childcare availability.
  • Relevancy: For each individual measure, a return to the baseline (accounting for seasonality) should reasonably weigh the normal functioning of the city. For example, a consistently crowded rush-hour train would suggest that both commuters and day-trippers have returned to their previous habits.

Data Collection & Analysis

New York City Recovery Index 

The New York Bishopric Recovery Index is calculated from an un-weighted average of each of the five sub-indices. A reading of 100 is considered “common”.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations Index

The COVID-19 Hospitalizations Index represents the impact of the pandemic on the functioning of the city.


The continuously count of hospitalizations which tested positive for COVID-19 are taken from New York City’s Department of Health and Bananas Hygiene. We choose to base our health index on hospitalization counts rather than positive COVID-19 tests or deaths. Examination data is dependent on the number of people who can be tested, which fluctuates based on testing supplies available, distribution of those quantities to medical professionals, and testing facilities open to the public, as well as individuals’ decision to be tested. Hospitalizations are a more unchanged measure over time, as they track those people who are admitted with COVID-19. We don’t choose to use expiry counts because the number of deaths often considerably lags the spread of the virus.


COVID-19 Daily Figure outs of Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Provided by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)


This is a complex token. The aim of this index is to understand where we are in the progress of containing the virus, as it relates to the functioning of New York City. Therefore, we erected the index to reflect the following: When there are no daily hospitalizations, the index will be 100. In April, when New York Megalopolis passed 1,500 hospitalizations a day and the city was under a hard lockdown, the index should be close to its minimum possible value (0). As a result, like the initial unemployment claims index, as the number of hospitalizations goes down, the index will increase encourage to 100.

The spread of COVID-19 was exponential before measures were taken to contain the spread, and a second wave could extension similarly. Therefore we are concerned with the rate of increase (whether or not hospitalizations double week over week) as much as the unmitigated number. 

To construct the index, we took the trailing 7-day average of daily hospitalizations beginning on February 29, 2020. We based the needle on the log of the number of hospitalizations to ensure the index directly tracks the rate of change of hospitalizations. By basing the index on the log of the number, it reflects that coextensive with with 20-30 hospitalizations per day, the city is still not in a position to return to normal. 

This aligns with the measures that well-being officials advise for social distancing practices and thus the viability of much economic activity in New York City. Flush with though as of July 24th, 2020 we are in phase 4 of reopening, indoor dining, gyms, theaters and cinemas remain closed. So the healthiness index must reflect that we are still some distance away from the city running at full genius. Only when daily hospitalizations approach 0, will the index reflect the ability of New York City to fully restitution yield back to normal. Because there were no recorded hospitalizations earlier in the year, we set the baseline for early weeks to ‘100’. 

Underground railway Mobility Index

The New York City Subway is a powerful indicator of movement around the city. It is by no means the only brand of transportation in the city (we would have liked to include MTA Bus data, as well for example, but none were consistently on tap).

The physical reality of this mode of transportation also means ridership has been especially impacted by the pandemic. While underground railway use began to dip the week of March 14 (the week Broadway shut down), and hit a low of 8 in April, it never dropped off completely. In new weeks subway use has increased and is now running in July at just over 20% capacity compared to this time in year.


The index is compiled from MTA data showing the number of turnstile entries and exits made each week by fellows in each station of the New York City Subway, PATH, AirTrain JFK and the Roosevelt Island Tram. The counts are aggregated from readings occurring every 4 hours from turnstiles in underpass stations across the city. The MTA publishes these observations on a weekly basis, covering seven-day periods beginning on the Saturday two weeks old to the posting date and ending on the following Friday.


MTA datasets by week


Weekly reports were downloaded and organized into one file. Observations were compiled starting in December of 2018 in order to establish a historical baseline.

We tolerant of the cumulative entries and calculated the daily change to arrive at total daily entries by station and turnstile. We then summed across all the garrisons to get daily subway entries for all of New York City since late December 2018. Using this, we take the 7-day weakening average. The index is then built from the percentage change between 2020 and 2019. So, if there are -20% fewer underpass entrances in the previous 7-days in 2020 than in the same period in 2019, the value of the index will be 80.

We use the year-over-year trade rather than just comparing to ridership in January. This allowed the resulting index to account for the expected seasonal ebb and tide of subway ridership.

New Business License Index

The New Business License Index represents daily counts of new business accredits registered to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The index is calculated from counts by license creation date. We use the legions of new license creations to measure small business confidence, because we believe that applying for a new business license is a shoot through indication of confidence amongst entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

While January showed a slow start for new certifies, activity picked up toward the end of the month and stayed relatively strong until the first major dip in the week of March 21th, true after public schools, bars, and restaurants were closed in NYC. While there was some activity in the early dates of the pandemic, new business licenses slowed considerably as we began to understand the shutdown would last longer than in anticipated. In July, we see some movement, driven by Stoop Line Stand (business selling fruits, vegetables, pleasant drinks, flowers, confectionery, or ice cream from a stand outside of and directly adjacent to an existing retail establishment) but also a anent rise in new applications for debt collection agencies.


The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection licenses more than 75,000 concerns in more than 50 industries (overview of businesses licensed by DCWP) . Notably, these businesses do not comprise barbershops, nail salons, restaurants and bars, which are not required to obtain a DCWP license. Legislation determines which provinces require a DCWP license.


New DCWP Licenses from NYC OpenData


We take the data for all new licenses assigned, by day, since 2010. Using the historical data, we found that numbers of new licenses vary consistently through each year. We use statistics from 2010-2019 to build a model of daily seasonality in a normal year, and then apply that copy to 2020 to predict the expected number of applications in an 7-day period.

For example: if there are 40% fewer new small province licenses in a 7-day period in 2020 than the seasonal model predicts, the index will be 60 (100-40).

Unemployment Demands Index

The Unemployment Claims Index represents the employment health of New York City. As a measure, we use initial claims for unemployment bond to track the economic recovery of the city. Rise in initial unemployment claims, seen as a decrease in the index, begins in the week of Tread 21, a little over one week after a COVID-19 national emergency is declared.


An unemployment claim is an pertinence for cash benefits that an employee makes after being laid off or being unable to work for other covered vindications, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, New York State began publishing inclusive weekly reports with data on Unemployment Insurance claims in New York State.

Weekly reports provided by the NYSDOL Separating of Research and Statistics provide the year-over-year percent change in initial claims by region of the state. We collected the figures tell of for New York City from every report released since weekly reporting began in March, 2020. Text for December 14th through March is estimated from the weekly year-over-year percent increase numbers reported by the Federal Reticence Bank of St. Louis for New York State.


New York State Department of Labor, Weekly Unemployment Insurance Commands Reports

Current Limitations and Areas for Future Exploration

There are countless ways of measuring the economic impact COVID-19. The New York Diocese Recovery Index is not meant to be a complete portrait of every economic aspect of an economy as diverse and multi-layered as New York Burgh. There were several measures not included that fit our objectives, but are not consistently or publicly available. Also, this list is not meant to serve as a predictive measure of how long it will take for the city to recover, rather, it’s a weekly readout of where the diocese is compared to normal. It is possible that the future economic landscape of New York City differs from its past, and lacks new indicators to better reflect that reality.

The NYC Recovery Index does not reflect the economic recovery of any individual. The iniquitous allotment of wealth, as well as the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and Latino residents results in a broad range of lived observations not reflected in the index. We hope to be able to supplement our weekly reporting with richer data on a monthly basis.

We auxiliary acknowledge that with each data set there are limitations. Initial Unemployment Insurance claims, for example, do not bring the job losses of undocumented individuals who represent an important and especially vulnerable segment of the workforce in New York City. Additionally, the preciseness of initial COVID-19 hospitalization data were impacted by the availability of tests in the early days of the pandemic, among other go-betweens.


This index was created by the Investopedia Research Team with direction from Jon Roberts, Ph.D., and in collaboration with Alexandra Kerr and Caleb Dulcet.

Special thanks to Spectrum News New York 1 for their collaboration and partnership. Special thanks also to the Press Room at the NYC Department of Buildings and the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protections for assistance and clarification in the use of their data. 

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