Confidence sinks, especially among locals

Consumer confidence fell throughout most of New York during the fourth quarter, but the starkest plu
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Consumer confidence fell throughout most of New York during the fourth quarter, but the starkest plunge in mood was felt by Albany-area residents, according to a Siena Research Institute report released Thursday.

Adding to the mounting evidence in support of an economic downturn, the SRI report shows that overall confidence in seven of eight metropolitan areas declined during the quarter that ended Dec. 31. Binghamton showed a slight uptick in consumer sentiment.

The Mid-Hudson Valley became New York’s most confident metro area, dethroning the Capital Region, which fell 10.3 points to 71.9. The Poughkeepsie area slid 5.3 points to 72.5.

“A combination of high energy prices, volatile stock market, bad economic news and talk of recession caused consumer confidence to drop everywhere in the state except Binghamton,” said SRI Founding Director Douglas Lonnstrom.

Lonnstrom said the Capital Region’s confidence decline was so stark because the state capital and its higher education infrastructure had kept moods artificially high. Those major employers helped shield the area from the adverse economic developments that have pummelled other upstate regions.

“All this negative news has finally caught up with us,” said Lonnstrom. Advanced Micro Devices’ plan to build a $3.2 billion chip manufacturing plant in Malta also boosted conference levels for much of 2007, but “doubts are creeping in” that AMD will carry out the proposal, said Lonnstrom.

Where Albany moods had stayed too high for too long, Binghamton’s moods could not get any lower, Lonnstrom said. The Southern Tier metro area has long had the lowest confidence readings in the state. Despite Binghamton’s 2.1 point increase to 67.9, it still ha the lowest confidence reading in New York.

Categories: Business

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