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Siena poll finds New York consumer sentiment sharply down from first quarter of the year

Produce and other items on the shelves at Bangla Bazar Halal Grocery in Albany, NY.
Dave Lucas
Produce and other items on the shelves at Bangla Bazar Halal Grocery in Albany, NY.

A new Siena College survey finds consumer confidence continues to fall across New York state.

The national economic downturn fueled by the pandemic that gave rise to inflation is feeding New Yorkers’ fear and doubt. Siena College Research Director Dr. Don Levy says the overall New York Index of Consumer Sentiment is in the basement.

"The overall index is 61.7. That's down over 6 points from our reading in the first quarter," Levy said. "Remember that a reading of 76 points is the break-even point and which optimism and pessimism are balanced. The reading of 61.7 is the lowest we have seen in New York state since October of 2011. And in fact, we look at both the current index and the future index, how do New Yorkers feel today? What are their expectations for the future? The current index is staggeringly low at 52.3. That is again the lowest we have seen since November of 2008 when we were involved in a financial meltdown."

The survey shows New Yorkers appear to be staying the course, for now.

"How does New York stack up versus the nation? Actually, we are stronger. Our consumer sentiment here in New York is stronger than when we compare it to the nation as a whole," said Levy. "The national index of consumer sentiment is at 50 and that is the lowest we have seen since Siena College has been conducting the index of consumer sentiment in parallel to the national project since 1999."

Levy says although consumer sentiment in New York is almost 12 points higher than the nation’s, the rising food and gasoline prices are taking a toll.

"80% of us say that food is taking a serious bite out of our family budget, and gasoline, that number, is 69%. Clearly inflation on prices are driving this high level of concern among consumers. “

Sherry Tomasky is Director of Public Affairs at Hunger Solutions, New York. "The impact of rising food costs hits low income New Yorkers the hardest, and for those who rely on federal nutrition programs, to use benefits to buy food, in their local grocery stores, really have a hard time making those benefits last the whole month or to meet their food needs for themselves and their families," said Tomasky. "And when food costs are going up as quickly as they are, these are the households that really bear the brunt of the rising food costs, because these benefits don't always expand when food prices go up. We have seen an increase in SNAP benefits in New York during most of the pandemic. But in many cases, it still isn't enough to meet food needs."

Tomasky says the group is asking Congress to permanently increase SNAP benefits.


Levy says upstaters, seniors, and residents making less than $50,000 a year and Republicans believe they've been especially hard hit. He says the way you feel about the economy boils down to your personal economic situation.

"Those making over $100,000 a year, their index of consumer sentiment is right at the break-even point where optimism and pessimism balance. They're slightly negative on current, but still decidedly positive on the future," said Levy.


The Siena College Poll referenced here was conducted June 14-27, 2022 by random telephone calls to 402 New York adults via landline and cell phones and 400 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel of New Yorkers. Respondent sampling via phone was initiated by asking for the youngest person in the household. The overall results has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.7 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. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline (from ASDE Survey Sampler) and cell phone (from Dynata) telephone numbers from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data from the telephone and web samples were blended and statistically adjusted by age, race/ethnicity, gender and party 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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