Siena Poll: NY Consumers Lack Confidence About Economic Future

Jul 8, 2019

The latest Siena College poll shows consumer confidence has dropped sharply in 2019.

The survey finds New York's consumer confidence rating is 11.1 points below the nation’s index of 98.2. Doug Lonnstrom is founding director of the Siena College Research Institute.   "Disappointing numbers. Actually quite fascinating. For the first time that I can recall, every number is down for all of New York state. It doesn't matter whether you're upstate or New York City, Democrat, Republican, young, old, male, female, high-income, low-income. Everybody's number is down."

Why such a dismal quarter?

"Probably the main reason is a lot of this talk about the tariffs and the trade wars and that that's going to force the price of everything up: automobiles are going to go up, computers are going to go up, TVs are going to go up, food is going to go up... that, on top of all the political trash talk about all these politicians carrying on, and of course and then we got the troubles with Iran and North Korea. I think all of those things together put a damper on consumer enthusiasm for this quarter," said Lonnstrom.

Yet the numbers appear solid.

"An index number of 75 is when optimism and pessimism are equal to each other. So we're above that level. So that's a good point. A couple of other things that are noticed: we look at buying plants of big ticket items. We look at cars, TVs, furniture, home buying, all of those are down. So that coincides with the consumer index being down. The one that was up was home improvements, and that's it's kind of negative in a way because it means people instead of looking for something new. They're going to fix up what they already got and kind of cut back and so on so buying plans aren't real robust.

Another thing that happened with buying plans, which was startling to me is normally we asked yes. Are you going to buy a car yet? Are you going to buy a condo? Are you on the site it? Well that undecided figure normally runs around 1 to 2 percent It is now jumped up to around 10 percent and that's a tremendous jump, and of course people are now worried about the future, so they're on certain so that makes uncertain about their purchases. So that's not a good sign for the economy."

Lonnstrom notes that nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers are concerned about the impact of the cost of food on the family budget. And 4 out of 10 New Yorkers feel gas prices are hurting the family budget.

Siena polled 348 adults via landline and cell phones; an additional 456 responses were drawn from a proprietary online panel in New York state between June 11 and 18. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.