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Poll: Majority of upstaters say they are worse off now

Rochester Business Journal
October 12, 2012

More than half of Upstate New York residents say they are not better off financially today than four years ago, a new survey by the Siena Research Institute shows.

The Annual New York Survey of the Economy and Personal Finances shows 51 percent of upstate residents believe they are not better off today, while 34 percent believe they are better off. Statewide, 35 percent said they were better off financially, while 47 percent said they were not.

Some 57 percent of upstate respondents to the survey said they think the country’s best economic days are behind us and were afraid the next generation will have to accept a lower standard of living. Forty-three percent said the current economic problems the nation faces are temporary and they believe the country’s economy is strong.

Some 64 percent of upstate residents said businesses in their communities were worse off now financially than four years ago, while 14 percent said businesses were better off. Statewide, some 56 percent said businesses were worse off now, while 17 percent said they were better off.

“New Yorkers continue to climb a steep financial hill,” SRI director Don Levy said. “Few say that their load has lightened since this time in 2008, but with half saying the economic glass is more full than empty as they look to the future, the trail may be evening out as we hit the next bend.

Younger New Yorkers, Democrats and those with jobs are more optimistic than other groups, Levy added.

Sixteen percent of individuals upstate said a member of their household had lost a job in the last six months, while 84 percent said they had not. Some 20 percent said a member of their household had their work hours cut back in the last six months, while 78 percent said they had not.

Some 45 percent of people upstate said they would strongly support an amendment to the constitution that would call for a balanced budget, while 13 percent said they would strongly oppose it. Statewide, 40 percent said they would support an amendment, while 15 percent said they would oppose one.

Nearly half of the upstate respondents said they strongly support ending U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan, while 10 percent said they strongly oppose it. Fifty-eight percent statewide said they strongly support ending U.S. involvement, while 12 percent said they oppose it.

Some 51 percent of upstate residents said they strongly oppose lessening funding for entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while 14 percent strongly support it. Statewide, 53 percent of people strongly oppose lessening funding.

Nearly half of upstate residents said they strongly support increasing federal income taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year, while 14 percent said they strongly oppose it. Fifty percent of residents statewide strongly support it.

More than one-third of upstate respondents said they strongly oppose lowering the tax rate paid by American corporations, while 17 percent said they strongly support it. Thirty-two percent said they strongly support repealing the recently enacted health care reform legislation, while 27 percent said they strongly oppose it.

“New York residents continue to face a tough economy but despite all the difficulties they are working and planning for the future,” Levy said. “A majority are confident that they will maintain their current standard of living in retirement and over half of those that now work have been able to put some money aside for retirement above and beyond any employer contribution.”

Siena surveyed more than 600 individuals statewide, with 35 percent of respondents living in upstate.

(c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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