Stony Brook Poll Documents Deep-Rooted Economic Concerns on Long Island; Majority Think Recovery will Take More Than Two Years
Continued Support for the Stimulus Bill, Most Cut Back on Spending
STONY BROOK, N.Y., — The Center for Survey Research at Stony Brook University polled Long Islanders on their opinions about the economy in February and early March, 2009, and uncovered widespread concern about economic conditions amidst beliefs that an economic recovery is not imminent. Roughly 800 Long Islanders were interviewed for the study.
Concerns about the economy dominate all other national issues for Long Islanders. Almost 80% mention some aspect of the economy as the major problem facing the nation, and this preoccupation is shared across income, education, age and employment groups. Over 3 in 4 Long Islanders have cut back on their spending with most of these cuts affecting discretionary spending, although a minority of Long Islanders have cut spending on basic food items.
According to Professor Leonie Huddy, Director of the Center for Survey Research, “Long Islanders are watching the economic situation closely. Most have not lost their jobs but everyone is worried and this translates into cautious spending.”
Long Islanders are not optimistic that the economy will recover any time soon. A majority believe it will take more than two years to recover.
“I don’t see anything happening in the next 5 years,” said Patricia San Filippo of Sag Harbor, who participated in the survey. “I think it’s going to be that long at least. My family lost over half of what we had. I think I’ll be working well into my seventies at least.”
A majority of those surveyed support the Congressional economic stimulus package, and this support exists regardless of how long local residents think it will take the economy to recover. Even those who think the economy will recover quickly (within the next year) support the package. There is no sign that support for the stimulus package declined over the four weeks during which the survey was conducted, ending in early March, suggesting that Long Islanders continue to support government action to solve the financial crisis.
Key Survey Findings
– Concerns about the Economy Dominate. Almost 80% of Long Islanders mention some aspect of the economy as the key problem currently facing the nation.
– Household Spending Cuts Widespread: Over 3 in 4 Long Islanders have cut back on their typical monthly expenses in response to national economic woes. Most local residents had made cuts to their discretionary spending: just under 30% of those who had made cuts, said they had cut entertainment the most; 26% had cut back the most on eating out; another 24% had cut back the most on clothing and consumer items. But a minority –15% — of those who cut back said their major cuts included basic food and supermarket purchases. Roughly a quarter of those living in low-income households earning $35,000 or less had cut back on basic food expenses.
– Taking the Long View: Over 6 in 10 Long Islanders think it will take more than two years for the economy to recover. Over a third think it will take more than four years. Just 3 in 10 local residents believe the economy will recover in less than 2 years. This perspective on the economic recovery cuts across political lines, and is similar among those who remain employed and those in families where someone has been laid off since July of last year.
– Majority Support for the Economic Stimulus Package. A majority, almost 6 in 10, of Long Islanders support the 800 billion dollar Congressional economic stimulus package; roughly one-third oppose it. Political ideology is linked to support for the stimulus package: 80% of liberals support it compared to 41% of conservatives. But the fact that a sizeable minority of conservatives are willing to support the bill helps to explain its broad political popularity. Political moderates fall in between with 64% in support and 30% opposed to the bill.
The Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research conducted this survey by telephone between February 9 and March 7, 2008. A list-assisted method of random-digit-dialing (RDD) was used to obtain phone numbers in the sample. Within selected households, individuals 18 years and over were selected at random for participation. Up to 7 contact attempts were made at each household phone number. In order to assure a representative sample, all households and individuals who were initially unwilling to participate in the survey were contacted again, and an attempt was made to persuade them to participate. A total of 810 interviews were conducted in the general Long Island population, with 410 completed interviews with residents of Nassau County and 400 completed interviews with residents of Suffolk County. The data is weighted to match population characteristics of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3.4%.
About the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research
The SBU Center for Survey Research is a high quality survey research facility that conducts telephone, web, and mail surveys on Long Island, New York state, and the nation. The Center received initial funding in 2000 from the National Science Foundation and has conducted numerous polls and surveys funded by Newsday, Suffolk county, the Long Island Sound Study group, New York state, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, various other government agencies, and local non-profit groups. The Center has conducted all polls for the Long Island Index since 2005. Professor Leonie Huddy, Director of the Center for Survey Research, frequently appears on national CBS radio as an exit poll analyst. Polls conducted by the center have received extensive media coverage in Newsday, the New York Times, and other news sources around the country. A more complete description of the projects conducted by the Center for Survey Research can be found at