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Upstate, statewide consumer sentiment soar in March to highest level since 2000

By Eric Reinhardt


Consumer Sentiment GraphicConsumer sentiment in upstate New York jumped 10.2 points to 96.7 in March, compared to the last measurement in November.

The upstate sentiment level and the statewide sentiment reading of 94.1, up 6 points from November, are now the highest they’ve been since 2000. That’s according to the latest quarterly survey the Siena (College) Research Institute (SRI) released Wednesday.

The statewide sentiment level was 2.8 points lower than the March reading of 96.9 for the U.S., which rose 3.1 points from November, as measured by the University of Michigan’s consumer-sentiment index.

Politics is playing a big role in the changes in consumer sentiment, an SRI analyst indicates.

“Consumer sentiment in New York hit a high-water mark not seen since November 2000, while the nation saw its highest sentiment since January 2007. Upstate also saw large increases and now surpasses the New York City area in overall, current, and future sentiment. While President Trump’s approval rating is down, New Yorkers appear to have bought into his economic message, particularly Republicans who have reached a sentiment level they haven’t seen since May 2000 and when looking towards the future, are recording the highest score we have ever seen for them since we started conducting this survey in January of 1999. At the same time, Democrat future sentiment is at its lowest point since October 2013,” Douglas Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena College and SRI founding director, said in the survey release.


Gas and food prices

In SRI’s quarterly analysis of gas and food prices, 37 percent of upstate respondents said the price of gas was having a serious impact on their monthly budgets, which is up from 34 percent in November and 30 percent in September.

In addition, 34 percent of statewide respondents said the price of gas was having a serious effect on their monthly spending plans, up from 29 percent in both November and September of last year.

When asked about food prices, 53 percent of upstate respondents indicated the price of groceries was having a serious impact on their finances, down from 67 percent in November and 59 percent in September.

At the same time, 59 percent of statewide respondents indicated the price of food was having a serious effect on their monthly finances, down from 63 percent in both November and September.

“Concern about gas prices increased slightly while worry over food prices declined. About one third of New Yorkers, well below previous levels, remain concerned about gas prices and about 6 in 10 are concerned about food prices,” Lonnstrom said.

SRI conducted its survey of consumer sentiment between March 1 and March 15 by telephone calls conducted in English to 804 New York residents.

It has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, according to SRI.


Contact Reinhardt at


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