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Survey Says NY Consumer Confidence Strong


Consumer confidence in New York is on the rise, according to a survey released Thursday.

"We just have a stronger overall national economy, and a stronger economy here in New York than we did if you're looking certainly back seven, eight, nine years ago. People simply feel better."  The Dow hit another all-time high Thursday, crossing 25,000; the same day Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy reported its Index of Consumer Sentiment remains strong:   "The point at which optimism and pessimism are balanced is a index number of approximately 75. So anytime we're above 75, that indicates that there is greater optimism in the marketplace than there is pessimism."

Sentiment in the fourth quarter of 2017 stands at 92.3, up 2.1 points. New Yorkers feel they are well off... for now.   "At the depth of the recession we used to get single digits, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7, 8, 9 percent of people who said they were better off, and as many as 70 percent who said they were worse off. Today we get nearly half of people that say 'I'm better off than I was just six months ago,' and only about a quarter who say they're worse. So it's an entirely different collective view as to how everyday families, the people that you and I know and work with, the people that we see at the grocery store, the people that we drive by on the Northway, how they feel about the economy."

Levy says national affairs have had an effect on consumers. The survey shows current sentiment higher than future sentiment.   "So what does that tell us? It tells us a little bit that perhaps some of the national events are worrying people. They're still feeling good, but they're a little bit more satisfied economically today than they are concerned about what could happen, and that could be effects of the tax plan, that could be North Korea, so political events are now sort of drawing down future sentiment just a little bit."

Levy notes that consumer buying plans for big ticket items such as new vehicles and homes were up in the fourth quarter of 2017.   "They're all up about 20 to 45 percent from where the average intent to buy those items was the two years prior. Those are big numbers. If you just simply look at furniture, and you say 'well what percentage of New Yorkers plan to but furniture over the next six months that's valued at at least $500? Right now that number is 27 percent. The average two years ago was 22 percent. So that indicates 5 percent more new Yorkers, so multiply 5 percent times 10 million New York households, that's the increase in the number of households who tell us they intend to go out there and make a furniture purchase. So it's a dramatic increase in the amount of economic vibrancy that we're going to experience and also simultaneously an indicator that 5 percent more people feel well enough about their economic situation that they're gonna make that particular purchase over the next six months."

Thirty-four percent of all New Yorkers say that current gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition.  Fifty-eight percent of state residents indicate that the amount of money they spend on groceries is having either a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances. Twenty-seven percent of state residents say that both gasoline and food prices are having either a somewhat or very serious impact on their finances.

This Siena College Poll was conducted November 6-15, 2017 by telephone calls conducted in English to 804 New York State residents.  Respondent sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household.  It has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points including the design effects resulting from weighting when applied to buying plans and/or the perceived impacts of gas and food prices.  As consumer sentiment is expressed as an index number developed after statistical calculations to a series of questions, “margin of error” does not apply to those indices. Sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample provided by Survey Sampling International of landline and cell phone telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data was statistically adjusted by age, region, gender and race/ethnicity to ensure representativeness.  

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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