LOUDONVILLE — The state Index of Consumer Sentiment stands at 83.7 this quarter, up 1.2 points from the first quarter of this year, according to a poll by the Siena College Research Institute. That is 1.8 points below the nation’s index of 85.5 percent.
While encouraging, sobering statistics include concerns over gas prices are the highest since 2014 and concerns over food prices are the highest in two years.
According to the poll, more than half, 54 percent, of all New Yorkers say gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their overall financial condition, up from 43 percent in the first quarter. And 63 percent say the amount of money spent on food is having a serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances, up from 57 percent.
Democrats were far less worried about gas than Republicans, 47 percent to 61 percent, respectively. But the difference narrows when it comes to food with 68 percent of Republicans worried compared to 61 percent of Democrats.
Fifty-three percent of Republicans are worried about both compared to 40 percent of Democrats. Nearly half of all lower income voters, 49 percent are worried about both, compared to 44 percent of those with a higher income. More men than women are worried about both, 46 to 44 percent, whole those under 55 years old are more worried than those older than 55 years old, 46 to 44 percent.
The overall and future indexes for New York each increased this quarter and remain above the breakeven point at which optimism and pessimism balance. The current index also increased, and is at breakeven.
“Consumer sentiment continued to climb this quarter driven by increases in New York City, among Democrats and as the state’s lowest income bracket residents start to see light at the end of their economic tunnel,” according to Doug Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SCRI founding director. “Overall, New York is up 17 points from the initial COVID shock as belief in a better tomorrow is now nearly as strong as it was before the pandemic. Upstate isn’t moving towards ‘Happy Days’ as quickly as NYC but outside of the city the future looks brighter than it did in March 2020.
“But, as concern over the impact of gas now exceeds 50 percent and approaches two- thirds for food, price increases, or inflation, could slow this recovery,” Lonnstrom said.
According to the poll, in the second quarter of 2021, buying plans were up from the first quarter for car/truck to 22.5 percent, from 17.8 percent; consumer electronics to 47.2 percent, from 47.1 percent; homes to 13.4 percent, from 10.0 percent; and major home improvements to 34.5 percent from 31.1 percent.
Buying plans were down slightly for furniture to 31.8 percent, from 32.0 percent.
This Siena College Poll was conducted June 16-29 by random telephone calls to 404 New York adults. It carries a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.