With rising subway ridership and office occupancy, the city’s post-Labor Day return has offered early signs that New York may finally be turning over a new chapter in its recovery.
This week, Mick Magsino fired up his commuting playlist with Arcade Fire and U2 as he resumed his 40-minute subway ride to work. For the first time since the pandemic started, Mr. Magsino decided that he was going to return twice a week to his office near Times Square.
His company was not mandating a return, and Mr. Magsino described the Times Square area that is once again swarming with tourists as “horrific.” But after two and a half years of working from home in Brooklyn, he said he missed the lunchtime halal carts and the camaraderie of talking sports with colleagues.
“I want a change of atmosphere,” said Mr. Magsino, who works in media sales. “As a New Yorker, I think it’s important to go back, to support local businesses and the delis and the cart guys,” he added.
In New York, where white-collar workers have been slower to go back to their desks than in other cities around the country, this month has offered tentative signs that employees are finally returning in earnest.
Offices in the New York City area were nearly half full this week, leaping from about 38 percent during the prior week, the biggest increase since Labor Day of any major metropolitan region, according to Kastle Systems, an office security firm.
On Wednesday, subway ridership surpassed 3.7 million riders for the first time since March 2020. And weekday ridership on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, which carry suburban commuters into the city, also reached pandemic-era highs in the last two weeks.