Consumer confidence in the metropolitan region is at its highest level in nearly nine years, according to a recent survey.
The Siena College Research Institute said Monday that its Index of Consumer Sentiment was 89.3 points last month for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs as gasoline prices continued to fall.
The index was 93.3 in February 2007, months before the region and country fell into recession.
Index readings above 76 points indicate the number of residents who are optimistic about their immediate financial future is larger than the number who are pessimistic.
In November 2014, the metro area’s confidence index was 87.9 points. Siena has conducted surveys four times a year since 2014; previously, they were done monthly.
Siena pollster Don Levy said a steep drop in the cost of gasoline, year over year, has buoyed consumers. He noted the number of metro area residents who said gas prices were either a serious or very serious problem in December was 30 percent, unchanged from September’s record low.
“Declining gas prices continue to drive concerns to the lowest we’ve seen in the seven years we’ve tracked it and gas pump savings should continue to be redirected to other consumer purchases,” he said.
Economists and retailers closely follow confidence indexes because they can indicate whether consumers are willing to open their wallets. Consumer spending represents about 70 percent of economic activity in the metropolitan area and nationwide.
Siena polled 801 residents statewide between Nov. 16 and Dec. 7. The survey has been conducted for more than 15 years.