Survey: Recession changing SD residents' behavior

AP News
Posted: Dec 02, 2009 1:19 PM

South Dakotans are putting off major purchases, dipping into their savings and working longer hours to deal with the lingering recession, according to a survey released this week.

The survey commissioned by global financial services company Citi shows that 46 percent of South Dakota residents have postponed the purchase of a major item such as an automobile, 34 percent have taken money out of savings or investments to help pay expenses and a third are working longer hours to make ends meet.

"Clearly, consumers in South Dakota have taken pause," Jerry Nachtigal, spokesman for Citibank South Dakota, said Wednesday.

Hart Research Associates conducted the telephone survey of 401 South Dakota adults, which has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

South Dakotans do seem to be more optimistic than the rest of the nation.

About 50 of the state's residents believe that the country's economic conditions have a ways to go before hitting bottom, while that number hits 63 percent nationally.

Nachtigal said part of that difference could be attributed to the state's 5 percent unemployment rate, compared to double-digit unemployment in other states.

"We don't have quite as much ground to make up," he said.

Nachtigal said Citi commissioned the survey to take the pulse of American consumers and find out how current and potential customers are dealing with "the worst financial times that any of us who didn't grow up in the Depression have ever lived through."

Nachtigal said the Citibank credit card division watches unemployment numbers closely.

"Every customer that loses his or her job is somebody that's probably going to struggle to pay their credit card bill," he said.