NJ Residents’ Economic Confidence Slips

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STATE — According to the most recent consumer survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, 26 percent of New Jerseyans say they are better off financially than they were last year, down six points from January 2012. Two in five (43 percent) report they are worse off, virtually unchanged from January (41 percent).

“Despite all time high approval ratings for Governor Christie and a majority who believe the state is heading in the right direction, New Jerseyans’ perceptions of their own financial well-being are not as positive,” said Rich Higginson, Director of Consumer Research at PublicMind.

Whites (47 percent) are more likely to say they are worse off financially than are non-whites (33 percent), while those between the ages of 18 and 29 (44 percent) are more likely to say they are better off than those aged 60+ (14 percent).

Looking ahead, more New Jerseyans (26 percent) expect they will be worse off financially in the upcoming year than believed so in January (19 percent), while only 2 in 5 (38 percent) believe they will be better off, down significantly from January’s view (47 percent). The youngest respondents, those 18-29 (63 percent) are the most likely to believe they will be better off in a year. At the other end of the age continuum, about a quarter of those aged 60 and older are unsure what the next year will bring.

Unemployment continues to impact New Jersey residents; with nearly 3 in 5 (57 percent) saying either they, a relative, or close friend has lost their job in the past year.

“The stock market has been on a see-saw ride over the past several months, state unemployment is up since January, and the overseas debt crisis continues to be unsettling,” Higginson added. “It should come as no surprise that our numbers have gone down.”

Housing, often a leading indicator of recovery and by far the most significant asset for the majority of Americans, offers little sign of improvement. About half (48 percent) believe housing prices in their area will go up in the next year, with non-whites (59 percent) being more optimistic than whites (45 percent).

Only 1 in 5 (21 percent) now believe that the life for their children will be better than it has been for them, down slightly from January’s 25 percent. More non-whites (33 percent) than whites (17 percent) believe their children’s generation will be better off.

“In January we noted that people were not necessarily more optimistic about the economy, just less pessimistic,” said Higginson. “It now appears the pessimism has crept back into the minds of New Jersey residents.”

The telephone survey of 695 randomly selected adults throughout New Jersey who participate in their household’s financial decisions was conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind from July 23 through July 29 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent percentage points.

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