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OHIO POLL Consumer confidence declines



Published: Fri, November 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



More than half of those polled believe their family finances will stay the same next year.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Only 25 percent of Ohioans questioned in a poll are confident about the performance of U.S. businesses during the next year, the lowest consumer confidence level in 11 years.

But the negative perception by those polled about U.S. business conditions does not translate into the belief that their families will be worse off financially in the coming year. Of those questioned by the Ohio Poll, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati, 57 percent expect their family finances to remain the same.

Results: The poll shows that 25 percent say U.S. businesses will experience good times during the next year, 55 percent say bad times are ahead and 20 percent see a mix of positive and negative results. The level of optimism dropped from 42 percent in July, the last time the Ohio Poll asked the question. Since then, the country has been the victim of terrorist attacks and Anthrax outbreaks, which have resulted in a weaker economy.

The Ohio Poll questioned 826 Ohio adults from Oct. 24 to Nov. 8 by telephone. The margin of error is 3.4 percent. The 25 percent level is the lowest for an Ohio Poll on this question since October 1990, when 21 percent predicted good times for U.S. businesses in the coming year.

Men, with 30 percent, were more likely to be optimistic about the performance of U.S. businesses than women, with 20 percent. Also those 65 years old and older, with 32 percent, were more optimistic than other age groups. Residents of Northeast Ohio were the least optimistic of any region, with 17 percent anticipating good times for businesses.

When asked if their family condition will worsen over the next year, 57 percent said it would remain the same, 26 percent said they would be better off and 18 percent said they would be worse off. The 26-percent better-off figure is the lowest poll total since January 1996.

The negative outlook on the condition of U.S. businesses will not stop those polled from making major household purchases such as furniture, a refrigerator or a television. Of those polled, 63 percent said it was a good time to make such a purchase, with 23 percent saying it is a bad time and 14 percent having no opinion on the subject.

skolnick@vindy.com




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