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Upstate, statewide consumer sentiment dips slightly in September

By Eric Reinhardt


Consumer sentiment in upstate New York was measured at 88.9 in September, down 0.2 points from the last reading in June.

That’s according to the latest quarterly survey the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI) released last week.

Upstate’s overall sentiment of 88.9 was 0.6 points below the statewide consumer-sentiment level of 90.5, which fell 1.6 points from June.

The statewide figure was 4.6 points lower than the September figure of 95.1 for the entire nation, which remain unchanged from the June measurement, as measured by the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment index.

“Consumer sentiment fell slightly in New York for the second straight quarter after reaching a 16-year high in March. The index scores — overall, current and future — declined across nearly every single demographic group, but all scores remained at, above, or in some cases well above the equilibrium point where optimism and pessimism balance. Economic sentiment among men fell but among women it increased, and at this point, we see only a couple points separating the genders,” Douglas Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SRI founding director, said in the school’s news release.

Gas and food prices

In SRI’s quarterly analysis of gas and food prices, 45 percent of Upstate respondents said the price of gas was having a serious impact on their monthly budgets, up from 30 percent in June and 37 percent in March.

In addition, 36 percent of statewide respondents said the price of gas was having a serious effect on their monthly spending plans, up from 27 percent in June and 34 percent in March.

When asked about food prices, 56 percent of Upstate respondents indicated the price of groceries was having a serious impact on their finances, up from 52 percent in June and 53 percent in March.

At the same time, 56 percent of statewide respondents indicated the price of food was having a serious effect on their monthly finances, unchanged from the June survey and down from 59 percent in March.

“Concern about gas prices increased sharply, up by nine points [statewide], due no doubt to rising prices after hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. Food price concerns, while stable, continue to be a worry to well over half of all New Yorkers, including two-thirds of our lowest income neighbors,” said Lonnstrom.

SRI conducted its survey of consumer sentiment between Sept. 11 and Sept. 26 by telephone calls conducted in English to 804 New York residents. It has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points, according SRI.

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