MAY 2, 2012
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Confidence levels remain substantially higher than in late 2011

Consumer confidence has remained roughly even in the second quarter, after soaring higher in the first quarter, according to new data released today by The MassINC Polling Group (MPG). Massachusetts residents still report current weakness in their personal finances, but see positive signs ahead, both for their personal finances and particularly for the business environment (see attached MPG Trend Monitor).

The MPG Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) is 79.2 for this quarter, little changed from the 78.4 reading from January 2012, but a large improvement over the 59.6 reading recorded in October 2011. The ICS is measured once per quarter among a sample of 500 Massachusetts adults as a part of the MassPulse Quarterly Poll.

Forty one percent say the next 12 months will bring good times for business, compared to 37 percent who see bad times ahead, tilting slightly in the positive direction. The significance of this positive tilt is in the improvement it represents over late last year, when just 22 percent saw good times for business and 62 percent said conditions would be bad.

On a personal level, more still say things have gotten worse (41 percent) in the last year than better (30 percent). However, one in three say they expect their finances to improve in the year ahead, compared to 14 percent who say things will get worse for them. While this still leaves close to half (45 percent) who expect their personal finances to stay the same, the overall balance is tipped in a positive direction.

“People expect the next year to be better for them, but haven’t seen things get better just yet,” said Steve Koczela, President of MPG. “At the macro level, residents see improvements underway, but they are still waiting for things to get better at home.”

The higher readings from the last two quarters may represent fragile gains. The debate over taxes and deficits, slated for late 2012 and early 2013, holds the potential to significantly impact confidence levels. The August 2011 release of the national Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers noted, “Never before in the history of the surveys have so many consumers spontaneously mentioned negative aspects of the government’s role in the economy, and never before have consumers rated economic policies so unfavorably.”

Also included in the attached Trend Monitor are favorables for political leaders and groups, and the quarterly update on right direction / wrong track for Massachusetts.

About the Poll: The MassPulse Quarterly Poll is conducted quarterly among representative samples of 500 Massachusetts residents age 18 and older.  The poll is conducted in English and Spanish among both cell phone and landline households.  This iteration of the survey was conducted from April 25-28, 2012.  The margin of sampling error is 4.4%.

About the MassINC Polling Group: The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) is an independent, non-partisan organization providing public opinion research and analysis to public, private, and social sector clients. MPG is a full service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products, and high-level communication and outreach planning. For more information, visit