By Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany
Forty-seven percent of New Yorkers said they are worse off now than they were four years ago, compared to 37 percent who said they are better off today, according to a Siena College poll Friday.
The poll of 621 state residents found that voters felt their finances were in worse shape than in 2008, the last presidential election. When asked about their savings and their income versus expenses, a plurality of voters - 40 percent in both cases - said they are worse off.
"New Yorkers continue to climb a steep financial hill. Few say that their load has lightened since this time in 2008," said Don Levy, the director of the Siena Research Institute, which conducted the poll that was underwritten by First Niagara Bank.
The poll comes a month before the presidential elections, as well as elections for Congress and the state Legislature. Enrolled Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York by a 2-to-1 margin.
Voters were split on their outlook of the national economy. Fifty percent, up from 45 percent a year ago, said they thought the nation's current economic problems were temporary, the poll said. Half of those polled thought the country's best days had passed.
Levy said the results showed more voters were looking, albeit slightly, to a brighter future.
"With half saying the economic glass is more full than empty as they look to the future, the trail may be evening out as we hit the next bend," he said in a statement. "Younger New Yorkers, Democrats, and those with jobs are more optimistic than their older, Republican and not-working neighbors."
The view of the economy was weakest in upstate and the New York City suburbs, the poll found.
By a 51 percent to 34 percent margin, upstate voters said they were worse off than four years. The sentiment was similar in the suburbs: 50 percent to 32 percent. In New York City, 42 percent of voters said they were worse off than they were four years ago, compared to 37 percent who said their situation had improved.
The "Annual New York Survey of the Economy and Personal Finances" by Siena College, which is located near Albany, had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. It was conducted Oct. 2-6.