Seven High Frequency Indicators for the Economy

These indicators are mostly for travel and entertainment.    It will 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 September 19th.


TSA Traveler Data 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 (Blue) and 2021 (Red).

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

The 7-day average is down 26.8% from the same day in 2019 (73.2% of 2019).  (Dashed line)

Note that the dashed line hit a pandemic high over the Labor Day weekend – probably due to leisure travel, but is now below pre-holiday levels.
The red line would usually start increasing seasonally after Labor Day.  But it appears business traffic is still soft.
—– 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!

DinersThanks to OpenTable for providing this restaurant data:

This data is updated through September 18, 2021.

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 picked up for the Labor Day weekend, but declined after the holiday.  The 7-day average for the US is down 13% compared to 2019.

—– Movie Tickets: Box Office Mojo —–


Move Box OfficeThis 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 September 16th.

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

Movie ticket sales were at $80 million last week, down only about 46% from the median for the week.


—– Hotel Occupancy: STR —–


Hotel Occupancy RateThis 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 September 11th. The occupancy rate was down 13.6% compared to the same week in 2019. The comparison to 2019 was difficult this week due to the timing of Labor Day.  Last week the occupancy rate was unchanged year-over-year.  If we average the last two weeks, occupancy is down about 7% compared to the same two weeks in 2019.

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

With solid leisure travel, the Summer months had decent occupancy – but it is uncertain what will happen in the Fall with business travel – usually weekly occupancy increases to around 70% in the weeks following Labor Day due to renewed business travel.

—– Gasoline Supplied: Energy Information Administration —–


gasoline ConsumptionThis 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 September 10th, gasoline supplied was down 0.5% compared to the same week in 2019.

There have been five weeks so far this year when gasoline supplied was up compared to the same week in 2019.

—– 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.

Apple Mobility DataThis data is through September 18th 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 1157 of the January 2020 level. 

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

—– New York City Subway Usage —–


Here is some interesting data on New York subway usage (HT BR).

New York City Subway UsageThis graph is from Todd W Schneider. This is weekly data since 2015. 

Most weeks are between 30 and 35 million entries, and currently there are over 14 million subway turnstile entries per week – and moving up recently.

This data is through Friday, September 17th.

Schneider has graphs for each borough, and links to all the data sources.

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

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