New Yorkers felt a little better about the economy as the Obama administration took over the White House, but jitters persist over whether his economic-stimulus plan will be enough to quell the recession, according to statistics released today by the Siena Research Institute.
Overall consumer confidence statewide in January rose 1 point over the month to 58.1. That uptick brought moods to their highest level since August, a month before Wall Street’s collapsed. But after two months of gains, New Yorkers’ future confidence slipped 0.7 point to 55.5 — its lowest level since October, according to the Loudonville pollster.
“Buoyed by the new administration’s commitment to economic stimulus as well as advertisers’ sales drumbeat, current consumer confidence climbed cautiously last month among increasingly resigned New Yorkers,” said SRI Founding Director Douglas Lonnstrom.
But advertisers’ drumbeat did little to push consumers into a spending mood. The percentages of consumers reporting buying plans for homes and automobiles fell to record lows in January at 2.2 and 7.7 percent, respectively. Despite retailers’ deep discounts and declining home values, Lonnstrom noted New Yorkers “remain too worried about their future to spend.”
Another factor assuaging consumers’ confidence was the drop in gasoline prices, which have recently reversed and surpassed $2 per gallon. But while prices were dropping in January, 40 percent of New Yorkers said the price of gas posed a somewhat or very serious problem for them, compared to 43 percent in December and 78 percent in July. Those concerned about food prices held steady at 66 percent in January.