The Bulletin Board

Survey finds residents pessimistic about long-term economic outlook

By: - May 24, 2021 12:03 pm
Piggy Bank in a window with a stick holding a dollar bill like a carrot

Thirty percent of respondents expected to be worse off in a year, the highest percentage since 2008. (Getty Images)

Consumer confidence is rebounding in New Hampshire, but pessimism about the trajectory of personal finances is at Great Recession levels, according to a new poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

The findings were released Monday and are the latest in the Business and Industry Association’s consumer confidence report. 

As with UNH’s other surveys about masks and vaccinations, results differed sharply by party, including the state of personal finances. When asked if they were better off financially than a year ago, 29 percent of Democrats said yes but only 16 percent of Republicans did. It was the reverse during the Donald Trump presidency, when more Republicans described themselves as better off, even during the height of the pandemic.

Looking ahead, 30 percent of respondents expected to be worse off in a year, the highest percentage since 2008, when it also hit 30 percent, while 47 percent expected they’d be the same. Those percentages also differed by party, with more Democrats (35 percent) feeling optimistic than independents (15 percent) and Republicans (14 percent.)

The survey center flagged another warning factor: Only 20 percent of respondents think it’s a good time to buy a major household item, an all-time low. The caution is highest among Republicans. In February, 23 percent of Republicans said it was a good time to buy a major household item. In this survey, only 9 percent did.

Asked if they thought businesses would have “good times” ahead with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, 40 percent of all respondents said yes, nearly twice the percentage in February. Again, more Democrats (40 percent) than Republicans (16 percent) expressed optimism.  

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.