Ask Alabama poll results show Alabama consumers pessimistic about economic recovery

AUBURN – 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.

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.

“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 Don-Terry Veal, director of Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services.

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.

The Ask Alabama poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

As 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, or those with incomes of $30,000 or less, who spent 64 percent spent less; Southeast Alabama residents, who spent 59 percent less; African-Americans, who spent 58 percent less; and women, who spent 56 percent less. Even among the most affluent households, 41 percent spent less in 2009.

Ask Alabama polls are conducted by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for-profit associations and private sector clients.

To view a graphic representation of these poll results, go to http://www.askalabama.org/press_releases/winter2010/press_release_1.html.

Contact: Don-Terry Veal, (334) 844-4781 (vealdon@auburn.edu),
David B. Hill, (334) 844-4867 (dbh0007@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)