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Metro consumer confidence builds as gas, food worries lessen

Bob Brown, of Farmingdale, fills up at a

Bob Brown, of Farmingdale, fills up at a gas station in Farmingdale, June 15, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

Consumer confidence in the metro area is building, according to a new survey by the upstate Siena College Research Institute.

Consumer confidence inched up to 93.3 points in June, from 92.4 points in March, when the index posted a 10-year high for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs. In June of last year, the quarterly index stood at 90.2 points.

Index readings above 76 points indicate that the number of residents who are optimistic about their immediate financial future is larger than the number who are pessimistic.

Driving the current metro sentiment are the strong stock market, an improved real estate market and job market stability, said Douglas Lonnstrom, a professor of statistics and finance at Siena — which is in Loudonville, near Albany — and the institute’s founding director.

“Generally speaking, if we look at the economic news, it’s fairly good,” he said.

By contrast, readings for the state declined. Consumer sentiment fell to 92.1 points for the state, from 94.1 points in March. But the readings still indicate that “the willingness to spend among consumers is strong,” the survey said.

Concerns about the costs of gas and food have eased in the metro area, with 26 percent saying the cost for gas was “a somewhat or very serious problem,” down from 31 percent in March, which was the highest since June 2015. As for food prices, 21 percent of metro residents said the cost was “a somewhat or very serious problem,” down from 27 percent in March.

Residents are less optimistic about the longer-term outlook. When asked about their outlook on five years from now, the measure of confidence in the metro area dips to 91.7 points.

“The economic news is good, but political news is very gloomy, and that is affecting people’s outlook on things,” Lonnstrom said.

The institute conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State.

Siena surveyed 808 New York State residents by telephone from June 5 to 21. The percentages in the survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

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