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Survey Finds Budget Situation Is Impacting Consumer Confidence

by | Aug 3, 2017 5:30am
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Posted to: Business, Consumer Protection, The Economy, Poll

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut residents are beginning to worry about how the lack of a state budget will impact their personal budgets, according to a survey by InformCT.

The survey indicates that “it is possible the uncertainty of the state’s budget situation may be contributing to the decreased likelihood of purchasing.”

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that state budget cuts would have some or a significant effect on their personal budgets. The percentage expecting an impact on their personal budgets from state budget cuts grows as respondent incomes decrease.

But the 505 residents surveyed are divided on how to resolve Connecticut’s two-year budget deficit. After the labor concessions were approved earlier this week, legislative leaders are still working on resolving a $3.5 billion budget deficit.

Fifty-eight percent of residents surveyed thought the state should reduce spending and 45 percent thought the state should increase taxes on the top 1 percent of households. Another 15 percent thought the state should raise taxes on businesses.

Earlier this year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed shifting about $400 million in teacher retirement costs over to cities and towns. While communities objected, lawmakers have largely failed to come up with an alternative proposal. House Democrats have suggested raising the sales tax from 6.35 percent to 6.99 percent to help municipalities make up for the loss.

The survey, which has a 4 percent margin of error, found about 44 percent of respondents felt the responsibility of teacher pensions should be equally divided between state and municipal governments, while 38 percent said state government should be mostly responsible and 18 percent felt municipal government should be mostly responsible.

The second quarter consumer confidence survey also found 35 percent think the overall business conditions in Connecticut are worse now than they were six months ago. A smaller share, 23 percent, thought conditions would be better in six months.

The results were consistent with the percentage of respondents who agree that the state economy was improving. Only 21 percent of respondents felt the economy was improving while 55 percent felt it wasn’t improving.

However, perceptions of the state’s economic condition were not reflected in concerns about employment. According to the Department of Labor, the private sector has recovered all of the jobs it lost during the 2008 recession.

About 24 percent of respondents said jobs were very hard to get now compared to six months ago, which is consistent with last quarter. There was also a slight decrease in those concerned that theirs or their spouse/partner’s job was in jeopardy. Only 36 percent felt their partner’s job was in jeopardy and last year at this time it was 39 percent.

Outside of their feelings about the job market, this was the first time that consumer confidence, which has been fairly high since the survey started in 2015, started to show signs of slowing.

Only a third of respondents said they will be making a big purchase in the next six months.

The survey found only 24 percent planned to purchase a new car in the next six months and only 32 percent planned to make “a major consumer expenditure” over that same period of time.

More than 60 percent were concerned about being able to afford health insurance and more than half were concerned about having enough money to retire comfortably.

InformCT is a public-private partnership between the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. and Smith & Company. This is the second year in a row that the group has conducted the consumer confidence surveys.

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