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Upstate, downstate, Republican and Democrat: Consumer confidence down across New York

Paulo O/Flickr (Public Domain)

Siena College released the New York State Index of Consumer Sentiment for the second quarter of 2019 today, and it shows a grim picture of how New Yorkers feel about the economy.

The poll measures how people feel about gas and food prices. It also asks about buying plans in the next six months for homes, cars, electronics and furniture.

“I’ve never seen this before—kind of startled me—every number is down,” said Founding Director of the Siena College Research Institute Dr. Douglas Lonnstrom, who has been doing this research since the early 1990s. “It doesn’t matter whether you live upstate or [in] New York City, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, whether you’re young or old, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re high income or low income, everybody is down.”

Lonnstrom said consumers are worn down by “political trash talk,” tariffs and trade wars—all of which affect buying decisions.

New York State’s overall measure of consumer sentiment (87.1 out of a possible 100) is 11 points below the nation’s as a whole (98.2). Upstate New York’s overall index is even lower (85.2), which Lonnstrom said can still be traced to the region’s historical loss of manufacturing jobs.

“New York City is the financial capital of the world. It’s more volatile, it goes up and down fairly quickly,” he said. “But upstate has been very slow to recover.”

The poll found that concern about food prices across New York State is currently at its highest level (64%) since December 2015. Indecision about making major purchases in the next six months is also unusually high. Concern about gasoline prices remained flat, at 43%, but is slightly higher in upstate New York (49%).

Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.