Study: Columbus consumers say they are worse off now - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Study: Columbus consumers say they are worse off now than last year

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COLUMBUS, GA -

A majority of households in Columbus, Ga., and its surrounding cities, feel pessimistic about the national economy. However, they are optimistic for the city's economy, according to Community Attitude Survey conducted by Dr. Benjamin Blair with Columbus State University.

The research stemmed from the University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment. This study focuses on consumers' outlook on the national level every month.

Blair wanted to conduct a similar study that just focused on Columbus, and cities within a 20 mile radius of Columbus, Ga.

The CSU College of Business sent out a survey asking five simple questions to 5,000 households. Only 1,000 households participated in the survey.

"When we asked people if they were better off or worse off financially than they were a year ago, they said they were worse off," Blair said. "However, these participants believe that their household will be better off a year from now. I think 2013 might not have been a good year, and they are trying to stay optimistic."

The study began towards the end of 2013, and it took Blair about three months to complete.

The University of Georgia's Terry College of Business also held the economic outlook on February 17, 2014. UGA's study showed that employment will rise by 1.2 percent in Columbus for 2014. This means 1,400 new jobs will be added to our city. This is a positive change from 2013, since none were created last year.

When Blair asked the households what their biggest concerns were, 50.4 percent of the participants said they were worried about Affordable Health Care.

"It's because of the uncertainty that is going on in the health care system," said Blair. "Many are confused by the system."

Rising prices were the next biggest issues for families in Columbus by 48.3 percent. Having sufficient income was 44.7 percent, crime was 38.1 percent and planning for retirement was 31.3 percent.

While Blair did not ask the households about their outlook on local economy specifically, he said there is good news to local businesses and owners.

"Local folks are confident about the financial situation in 2014," Blair said. "People said they are willing to make purchases this year. We asked if 2014 is a good time to make huge house purchases like refrigerator, washer, dryer and television. The majority agreed that it is a good time to do just that."

Dr. Blair will conduct another Community Attitude Survey in 2014 to compare the results again. He said doing studies, and learning more about local economy, is important for the city, and the residents.

"As of now, the overall outcome we got from the survey question was that people were pessimistic in general," Blair said. "They were positive about their own individual financial situation. However, questions about the national economy led the overall outcome to be pessimistic. So I want to see if they change their minds at all later this year."

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