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Seven High Frequency Indicators for the Economy


These indicators are mostly for travel and entertainment.    It is interesting to watch these sectors recover as the pandemic subsides.

—– Airlines: Transportation Security Administration —–
The TSA is providing daily travel numbers.

This data is as of January 1st.

Click on graph for larger image.

This data shows the 7-day average of daily total traveler throughput from the TSA for 2019 (Light Blue), 2020 (Black), 2021 (Blue) and 2021 (Red).

The dashed line is the percent of 2019 for the seven-day average.

The 7-day average is down 17.8% from the same day in 2019 (82.2% of 2019).  (Dashed line)

Air travel had been off about 20% relative to 2019 for the last five months (with some ups and downs) – but picked up over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
—– Restaurants: OpenTable —–
The second graph shows the 7-day average of the year-over-year change in diners as tabulated by OpenTable for the US and several selected cities.

IMPORTANT: OpenTable notes: “we’ve updated the data including downloadable dataset from January 1, 2021 onward to compare seated diners from 2021 to 2019, as opposed to year over year.” Thanks!

Thanks to OpenTable for providing this restaurant data:

This data is updated through January 1, 2022.

This data is “a sample of restaurants on the OpenTable network across all channels: online reservations, phone reservations, and walk-ins. For year-over-year comparisons by day, we compare to the same day of the week from the same week in the previous year.”

Note that this data is for “only the restaurants that have chosen to reopen in a given market”. Since some restaurants have not reopened, the actual year-over-year decline is worse than shown.

Dining was mostly moving sideways, but there has been some decline recently, probably due to the winter wave of COVID.  The 7-day average for the US is down 13% compared to 2019.

—– Movie Tickets: Box Office Mojo —–
This data shows domestic box office for each week and the median for the years 2016 through 2019 (dashed light blue).  

Blue is 2020 and Red is 2021.  
The data is from BoxOfficeMojo through December 30th.

Note that the data is usually noisy week-to-week and depends on when blockbusters are released.

Movie ticket sales were at $204 million last week, down about 44% from the median for the week. 

—– Hotel Occupancy: STR —–
This graph shows the seasonal pattern for the hotel occupancy rate using the four-week average.

The red line is for 2021, black is 2020, blue is the median, dashed purple is 2019, and dashed light blue is for 2009 (the worst year on record for hotels prior to 2020).

This data is through December 18th. The occupancy rate was up 8.0% compared to the same week in 2019. Although down compared to 2019, the 4-week average of the occupancy rate is now above the median rate for the previous 20 years (Blue).

Notes: Y-axis doesn’t start at zero to better show the seasonal change.

The 4-week average of the occupancy rate will bottom seasonally over the next few weeks.
—– Gasoline Supplied: Energy Information Administration —–
This graph, based on weekly data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), shows gasoline supplied compared to the same week of 2019.

Blue is for 2020.  Red is for 2021.

As of December 24th, gasoline supplied was up 8.5% compared to the same week in 2019.

There have been 13 weeks this year that gasoline supplied was up compared to the same week in 2019 – so consumption is running close to 2019 levels now.

—– Transit: Apple Mobility —–
This graph is from Apple mobility. From Apple: “This data is generated by counting the number of requests made to Apple Maps for directions in select countries/regions, sub-regions, and cities.” This is just a general guide – people that regularly commute probably don’t ask for directions.

There is also some great data on mobility from the Dallas Fed Mobility and Engagement Index. However the index is set “relative to its weekday-specific average over January–February”, and is not seasonally adjusted, so we can’t tell if an increase in mobility is due to recovery or just the normal increase in the Spring and Summer.

This data is through December 31st 

for the United States and several selected cities.

The graph is the running 7-day average to remove the impact of weekends.

IMPORTANT: All data is relative to January 13, 2020. This data is NOT Seasonally Adjusted. People walk and drive more when the weather is nice, so I’m just using the transit data.

According to the Apple data directions requests, public transit in the 7-day average for the US is at 81% of the January 2020 level. 

New York City is doing OK by this metric, but subway usage in NYC is down significantly (next graph).

—– New York City Subway Usage —–
Here is some interesting data on New York subway usage (HT BR).

This graph is from Todd W Schneider

This graph shows how much MTA traffic has recovered in each borough (Graph starts at first week in January 2020 and 100 = 2019 average).
Manhattan is at about 26% of normal (impacted by holidays too).

This data is through Friday, December 31st.

He notes: “Data updates weekly from the MTA’s public turnstile data, usually on Saturday mornings”.

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