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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Consumer confidence fell this quarter to the lowest level in over a year, according to poll data released today by The MassINC Polling Group. The Massachusetts Index of Consumer Sentiment dropped about 15 points to 71.2 since October 2012, a reversal of a yearlong trend of steady improvements in consumers’ outlook.

More Bay State residents now say the last year has left them economically worse off (46 percent) than better off (29 percent), a reversal from the relative optimism of the last reading in October 2012. In terms of the business environment, 47 percent say bad times are ahead, compared to 37 percent who see good times. About half (51 percent) believes the nation is headed for tough times over the next five years, a nineteen point jump since last quarter.

“These figures and other national polling suggest people are feeling the pinch of the end of the payroll tax holiday, and elevated anxiety about the national political environment,” said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group. “Some aspects of the picture look a lot like July 2011, when the initial round of debt ceiling negotiations hammered consumer confidence.”

The full report (attached) also explores an end of year spike in online searches in Massachusetts for unemployment related content as evidence of continued consumer uncertainly.

About the Poll: The MassPulse Quarterly Poll is conducted quarterly among representative samples of approximately 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 January 16-19, 2013.  The margin of sampling error is ∓4.4.