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Upstate, statewide consumer sentiment rise in March

Consumer sentiment in upstate New York was measured at 81.8 in March, up 2.8 points from the last measurement in December

That’s according to the latest survey the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI) released on Tuesday.

The December index reading of 79 was up 3.7 points from the previous measurement in September.

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Upstate’s overall sentiment was 5.3 points below the statewide consumer-sentiment level of 87.1, which rose 1.9 points compared to December, SRI said.

New York state’s consumer-sentiment index is at its highest point since the winter of 2007.

But the figure was 3.9 points lower than the March reading of 91.0 for the entire nation, which fell 1.6 points from December, as measured by the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment index.

Consumer sentiment increased nearly two points in the first quarter of 2016 as nationally the index declined close to two points, Doug Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SRI founding director, said in the release.

“New York’s number, not only is now nearly equal to the national benchmark, but is at its highest point since the winter of 2007. Belief in an improving tomorrow rather than an assessment of current progress drives the strengthening consumer outlook. Still, while Democrats saw a 10-point bump in optimism, Republicans, with a 17-point decline in their current outlook, say today’s glass may not be empty, but, in this campaign season, it is less full than it was in December,” said Lonnstrom.

In SRI’s quarterly analysis of gas and food prices, 30 percent of Upstate respondents said the price of gas was having a serious impact on their monthly budgets, which is down from 37 percent in December and 42 percent in September.

When asked about food prices, 59 percent of Upstate respondents indicated the price of groceries was having a serious impact on their finances, down from 66 percent in December and 73 percent in September.

SRI conducted its survey of consumer sentiment between March 7 and March 30 by telephone calls to 800 New York residents.

It has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points, according SRI.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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