Alabama consumers turn pessimistic about economic recovery.

Auburn, February 3, 2010: A recent Ask Alabama poll found an increasing level of pessimism among Alabamians regarding the economy. Only 44 percent of respondents told Auburn University pollsters that the economy will improve over the next 12 months, reflecting a drop of 11 percentage points since a comparable poll was taken last July. The rising pessimism of consumers was the key finding of a telephone poll of 615 adults taken Jan. 4-14 by Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services.

Alabama residents saying that they are “struggling to make ends meet” also edged up slightly, from 42 percent last July to 46 percent in the latest poll.

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Auburn researchers combined consumers’ perceptions of their current economic situation and their expectations for the future into a single “Index of Alabama Consumer Sentiment.” The current index scores classify only 26 percent of the state’s residents as wholly negative about the economy, unchanged from last July.

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“While there was a dip in optimism about the future, many Alabama families seem to be reaching a point where they are at least living somewhat comfortably as they ride out the recession,” said Auburn’s Dr. Don-Terry Veal. Overall, a narrow majority of the residents polled described their present financial situation as either “doing better than ever” (2.9 percent) or living comfortably (49.6 percent).

chart3As Alabama retailers know, the recession is slowing sales. The latest Ask Alabama poll documented that trend, showing that 51 percent of consumers spent less for Christmas 2009 holiday gifts than they spent a year earlier. Purchases declined most among low income householders [$30 thousand or lower] (64 percent spent less), Southeast Alabama residents (59 percent less), African-Americans (58 percent less) and women (56 percent less). Even among the most affluent households, 41 percent spent less in 2009.

The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted with a stratified random sample of 614 adult householders January 4-14, 2010. The sample’s geographic, gender, race, and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the United States Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult (18+ years of age) householders. Patrick Rose, Manager of the Center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.

 

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