War in Ukraine fuels worries for personal finances

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On the heels of growing optimism for economic recovery as the global pandemic began to wane, the war in Ukraine has more New Yorkers concerned about long-term problems.

A new statewide survey of consumers by the Siena College Research Institute shows that while 32% of New Yorkers are inclined to believe the war will soon end and the personal finances of Americans will be largely unaffected, a majority — 54% — say the war and the international response to it will lead to long-term economic problems for years to come.

The survey says that 70% say that inflation is having either a very (26%) or somewhat (44%) serious negative effect on their personal finances, and that “in light of current economic conditions and the war in Ukraine, 87% are concerned about food prices, 80% are concerned with the cost of gasoline, 76% with home utility costs, 71% with the worth of the American dollar and 68% with the value of their retirement accounts.”

In response to price increases due to inflation, 69% said they will buy less in general, 67% will buy less expensive items and 28% plan to dip into savings to pay for everyday expenses. Over a third — 35% — plan to get a second job or generate another source of income while 34% now say that they will postpone or cancel a vacation in the next six months.

“Inflation had gotten New Yorkers’ attention, but now add in war in Ukraine and consumers are very concerned, and many are planning to cut back,” Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy said in a news release.

“Gas, food and utilities costs are a concern for between 76-87% of all New Yorkers,” Levy said. “And with inflation soaring, about 70% worry about the American dollar’s worth and the value of their retirement accounts.”

With the pandemic’s effects lessening, New Yorkers were ready to exhale, Levy said, but “food prices and gasoline, now worry at least eight out of every ten New Yorkers and with 70% saying inflation is negatively affecting their finances and 71% concerned about the worth of the dollar, those kitchen table discussions are not for the faint of heart.”

Thirty-five percent of all New Yorkers, 50% of those 18-34 years of age, 46-50% of Blacks and Latinos and 42% of those with children in their household will get a second job or generate another source of income in response to inflation. One quarter will stop or reduce savings contributions and 34% will postpone or cancel a vacation.

“We will have to wait and see how the economy reacts this spring and summer and what the impact of war in Ukraine will be, but for now, New Yorkers weary from two years of COVID, are expressing economic concerns that will pre-occupy their decisions and perhaps slow economic activity in New York,” Levy said.

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