By Haley Viccaro, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Consumer confidence increased by 10 percent or more in all of the state's nine metropolitan areas for the fourth quarter of 2012, a Siena College survey reported Thursday.
New York City had the highest overall consumer confidence score of 84.7 points, and the Utica region had the lowest, at 68.2 points. Rochester and Albany had significant fourth quarter confidence-score increases compared to last year.
The survey measured people's willingness to spend as opposed to their ability to spend. The index is on a scale of 1 to 150 points, and 75 points is the break-even threshold between pessimism and optimism.
"Consumer sentiment was up strongly in every region of the state across the fourth quarter despite some slowing in December," Don Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute, said in a statement.
Binghamton had the greatest overall confidence increase of seven points, to 72.6 points, which is a 28 percent increase compared to last year. After Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica had the highest increases in overall confidence.
Buffalo, Rochester and the Mid-Hudson regions all had less than 20 percent increases in overall consumer confidence compared to last year. After Utica, the Mid-Hudson region had the lowest confidence score of 72.2 points.
"Sentiment in New York City, Rochester and Albany has crossed the breakeven point and entered 'optimistic territory,'" Levy said. "Compared to this time last year, confidence is at least 10 percent higher in Rochester to 28 percent higher in Binghamton and New York City."
The future confidence scores are up in every region, with the highest projected increases in Syracuse, Utica and Binghamton. The Siena survey said future confidence is not expected to decrease in any region.
Along with overall confidence, individuals' buying plans have also increased, which indicates that consumers are planning to purchase personal items within the next six months.
Plans to buy cars, computers and furniture had the highest increases in the fourth quarter. Binghamton has the highest percentage of individuals who plan to purchase a car or truck -- 14.3 percent.
About 18 percent of people in Long Island plan to buy new computers and 23 percent have indicated interest in purchasing furniture for their homes, which are the highest increases among the regions.
"Sentiment remains fragile and could suffer from a debt-ceiling debacle, but right now it looks like consumers will spend more, and add a little 'umpf' to this economy," Levy said in a statement.
Overall consumer confidence is measured by analyzing the current and future confidence scores of each region statewide.