Consumer confidence in the metropolitan area climbed last month compared with a June survey as declining gasoline prices eased worries about the economy.
The Siena College Research Institute on Wednesday reported that its confidence index for Long Island, New York City and its northern suburbs in September was 87.1 points. In June, the last time the survey was done, the index was 86.7 points.
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.
A year ago, the metropolitan area's confidence index was 76.8 points in July and 87.9 points in November. Siena conducts surveys four times per year.
Siena pollster Douglas Lonnstrom said Wednesday the low cost of gasoline helped to boost consumer confidence. He noted the number of metro area residents who said gas prices were either a serious or very serious problem in September was 30 percent, a record low.
"Declining gas prices drove fuel concerns to the lowest we've seen in the seven years we've tracked it," Lonnstrom 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 New York area and nationwide.
Separately, Siena found a record 10.4 percent of residents across New York State are interested in buying a home in the next six months.
Siena polled 800 adults across the state from Sept. 1 through Sept. 27.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. The survey has been conducted for more than 15 years.