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Mass.’ Most Confident Consumers: Bostonians; Non-Whites; The Young

BOSTON — Metro Bostonians have a more favorable outlook on the economy than others in the state. Non-white Massachusetts residents are happier consumers than whites. And the young have more economic confidence than those who are older.

Those findings come from The MassINC Polling Group, which broke down its quarterly Index of Consumer Sentiment data by demographics and averaged the results. The data date back to the beginning of 2011 and the latest consumer survey was released July 23.

Here are the MassINC results in one chart (click to enlarge):

(The MassINC Polling Group)

(The MassINC Polling Group)

A few points of note from the findings:

– Consumer sentiment declines the farther one lives from Boston and its inner suburbs.

– Many in the 18-29 group are in school, so that may affect their view of the economy.

– The partisan divide — about 10 points above the overall index score for Democrats, and about 10 points below for Republicans — follows similar trends in nationwide consumer surveys. Gallup’s latest Economic Confidence Index, also released Tuesday, finds Democrats with a +18 confidence measurement, while Republicans are -36.

In its blog post, MassINC offers a few probing questions on the sentiment findings, like:

For example, are younger people or non-whites happier because those groups also skew Democratic, and therefore have greater faith in President Obama and Governor Patrick?

Also Tuesday, Associated Industries of Massachusetts said its Business Confidence Index ticked back up into positive territory in July, which indicates employers are more optimistic.

The findings on consumer and business confidence come several days after a UMass report calculated that the Massachusetts economy slowed sharply in the second quarter of the year, to an annual growth rate of 0.8 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate has also increased recently, climbing to 7 percent last month, according to preliminary federal estimates. The rise in the jobless rate came as Massachusetts added an estimated 2,800 jobs in June.

Different surveys are used to calculate the state’s unemployment rate and its job growth.

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