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New Yorkers’ economic worries are on the rise, according to new Siena poll

70% of New Yorkers polled say inflation is either having a “very” or “somewhat” serious negative impact on their finances.
Dave Lucas
70% of New Yorkers polled say inflation is either having a “very” or “somewhat” serious negative impact on their finances.

A new Siena College Research Institute poll released Thursday finds 70% of New Yorkers say inflation is either having a “very” or “somewhat” serious negative impact on their finances.

As America exits the worst of the pandemic, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine have put a damper on the economy.

Mark Eagan is President and CEO of the Capital Region Chamber and the Center for Economic Growth.

"You know, we've been to a unique time with our economy," said Eagan. "You know think when we went into the pandemic, that, you know, quickly, within a matter of weeks, we went from an unemployment rate locally of around 4%, to 14%. And we really wondered what was going to happen with our economy and people and their lives and their livelihood, you know, and the government, you know, quickly came in with, with stimulus programs, checks, for those that were, all of a sudden unemployed, where they were an added benefit to make sure that they could provide companies that were able to get programs like the payroll Protection Program, etc. And really, those programs worked really well. And we never really went into the sort of recession that could have happened," said Eagan.

But a new Siena College Research Institute poll reveals that inflation is beginning to take a toll.

An interview with Don Levy of Siena
An interview with Don Levy of Siena<br/>

Poll director Don Levy: "We find that 80% of New Yorkers are concerned about the cost of gasoline, 76% are concerned about home heating utility costs and food prices, off the charts, 87% of us say that we are concerned about the cost of food," Levy said. "Additionally, we have concerns about the value of our retirement accounts, even the worth of the American dollar."

Eagan says folks are feeling the pinch and many have reined in their spending a bit. "All of a sudden, you know, that package of chicken that you're buying, how much more does it cost today? Or, you know, what we've seen most recently in the last few weeks, really the big spike in the gasoline prices. And how is that impacting not just people, one their psyches, but also their wallets," said Eagan.

According to Levy, 69% of poll respondents say they will buy less in general, 67% will buy less expensive items and 28% plan to tap into their savings to help cover rising prices. "8% of upstaters say that they are continuing to live as usual in the face of inflation," Levy said. "So 90% of us say that we are affected. Some of the things that we're doing: a third of us are postponing or canceling of vacation, and 35%, over a third tell us that they're either getting a second job or generating another source of income. That's especially true of younger New Yorkers age 18-34. Half of that group say they're looking for another job."

Levy says 54% of New Yorkers believe the war in Ukraine and the international response to it will lead to long-term economic problems. "Only a third, 32%, think the war will soon end and it will not have an enduring effect upon the personal finances of New Yorkers," said Levy.

Eagan doesn't foresee any noticeable shift in consumer spending. "If you look at the way that that some of the Siena questions were asked, it's what is your likelihood within these areas? I think that the whole impact of what's going on, you know, in Ukraine and Russia from the perspective of, New York State, that, that Ukraine and Russia, they're less than 1% of our state's total import and export," Eagan said.

Eagan concedes the severity of supply chain issues and wartime activity coupled with rising gasoline prices could make people think twice before heading out to tourist attractions and other travel destinations. "But at the same time, you don't hear people saying they're not going to go to Lake George this summer, said Eagan. "You know, I think that there's still a pent up demand. And I think that in the months ahead, people are going to still make the most of the summertime."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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