A woman browses the produce section of a grocery store...

A woman browses the produce section of a grocery store in Commack. Credit: Steve Pfost

The cost of groceries and maintaining a home are the top concerns of more than 6 in 10 Long Islanders, according to a new poll.

The Siena College Research Institute found equal numbers of local residents — 65% and 64% — said prices for groceries and running a house are either a very serious or somewhat serious problem. The survey question referred to rent and mortgage payments, property taxes and repairs.

Only 35% said grocery and housing costs are not a serious concern in the poll of 117 adults living in Nassau and Suffolk counties, which was conducted from Nov. 19-28. The margin of error was plus or minus 9 percentage points.

The Long Island results mirrored those for the suburbs north of New York City and statewide. A total of 805 adults were surveyed across the state.

“Food and housing costs represent a high percentage of the monthly budget for most households,” said Siena pollster Don Levy. “And Long Islanders are still dramatically upset about how much it costs to live even though inflation is down from where it was a year ago and gasoline prices are dropping.”

In terms of gasoline, 51% said pump prices are a serious problem. That’s down from 62% in a Siena poll in December 2022.

Five in 10 Long Islanders also identified utility costs, including electricity, home heating fuel and water, as a serious concern. More than 3 in 10 said they were worried about the price of cellphones, the internet, cable television and streaming services.

Levy said the November survey was the first time since Siena began tracking consumer confidence in 1999 that New Yorkers were asked about the cost of goods and services beyond groceries and gasoline. 

Siena wanted to get a better understanding of why its Index of Consumer Sentiment remains below the break-even point of 75 points, meaning the number of people who are pessimistic about their immediate financial future is larger than the number who are optimistic, he said.

The index for Long Island was 70.4 points, up from 67.1 in December 2022. In the metropolitan area, the index was 79.6 points, up from 76.6 a year earlier.

“Consumer sentiment has creeped begrudgingly higher,” Levy said in an interview, adding that Nassau and Suffolk residents are more bullish about their long-term financial future. “There is far more optimism towards the future.”

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