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New Yorkers more confident about economy

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 9:06 am

The New York state index of consumer sentiment increased 4.3 points in September to its highest level in five years, according to the latest poll by the Siena Research Institute.

At 78.2, New York’s overall Index of Consumer Sentiment is 0.1 points below the nation’s index of 78.3, according to national data compiled by the University of Michigan.

The Siena College-based institute reports that, in September, buying plans were up for cars/trucks, 2.1 points to 13.1 percent and furniture, 3.0 points to 22.8 percent. Buying plans were down for computers, 1.6 points to 16 percent; homes, 0.2 points to 3.5 percent; and major home improvements, 1.2 to 14 percent.

“Our index of consumer sentiment reached a five-year high this month and rests encouragingly two points above the all-important breakeven mark,” says Dr. Doug Lonnstrom, professor of statistics and finance at Siena and the institute’s founding director. “Nationally, future sentiment increased by over eight points while in New York consumers’ expectations rose by almost six and reached the highest level we’ve seen since March 2007.”

With the election only a month away, he says New York consumers may be voting with their economic outlook.

“The gap between Democrats and Republicans, 37 points, is the largest we have ever had and the future outlook among Democrats is at its highest point since the end of the Clinton presidency.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Lonnstrom says concern over the impact gas and food prices are having on family budgets remains high across the state at over 60 percent for each. Overall gasoline worries have leveled, but are more likely to effect Republicans, upstaters and lower-income residents. Food concerns, while high amidst the bacon scare, he says, remain lower than they were at this point a year ago.

Sixty-one percent of all New Yorkers say that current gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their financial condition. Sixty-five percent of state residents indicate that the amount of money they spend on groceries is having either a very serious or somewhat serious impact on their finances. Forty-nine percent of state residents say that both gasoline and food prices are having either a somewhat or very serious impact on their finances.

U.S. Tom Reed is pressing military-grade helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky to provide details about the closing and future of affected workers as a result of last week’s decision to shut down its operations in Big Flats.

Rep. Reed says he has spoken with management of both Sikorsky and its parent company, United Technologies Corp., and will be meeting with company leadership.

“We are demanding they reconsider their decision to abandon our very productive local workforce,” Rep. Reed said.

He notes that Sikorsky has invested millions of dollars in multiple facilities in Chemung County and questioned the competence of management, asking, “Why would they choose to walk away from such a valuable work force and world-class facilities?”

Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson, speaking to the Corning Leader, declined to comment on Rep. Reed’s questioning of the company’s actions, but he said the company’s decision was based on budgets and business conditions “as we understand them today.”

“It is not based on sequestration (impending government spending cuts), which remains the great unknown,” Mr. Jackson told the Leader. “If it happens, we will need to deal with it, as well. The work that is moving from the (Sikorsky Military Completions Center in Big Flats) will be performed at our other U.S. facilities. It is not going offshore.”

Rep. Reed says he has reached out to the union representing the Sikorsky workers and vowed to stand with the affected work force through impact bargaining negotiations and to fight for additional retraining resources for the local workers. He also pledged to fight to ensure that all taxpayer dollars Sikorsky is obligated to pay back as a result of this decision are paid in full.

“If Sikorsky doesn’t reconsider, we will make sure our workers and taxpayers are fully compensated,” he says.

The congressman, who faces a challenge from Democrat Nate Shinagawa for re-election in November, calls Sikorsky’s decision another example of why private sector manufacturing and job creation must be encouraged by government rather than discouraged by uncompetitive tax policy.

He says the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world and that over-regulation and the lack of a domestic energy policy also hurt the nation when competing for manufacturing jobs.

In addition to the meetings, Reed has also begun conversations with other aerospace and manufacturing companies so that they are aware of the available facilities and local work force.

New York’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business has endorsed Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, for re-election in the 148th Assembly district.

“Joseph Giglio has long been a great proponent of small business in the Legislature and his terrific voting records proves it,” NFIB/New York State Director Mike Durant says. “Assemblyman Giglio has stood with small business to help enact two consecutive fiscally responsible budgets and stress the need to focus on reducing the cost of doing business. We look forward to continuing to work with the Assemblyman to put New York on the path to economic revitalization.”

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