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Consumer Confidence Soaring in New Jersey [AUDIO]

Consumer confidence is up in the Garden State.

Gail Oskin, Getty Images

That’s according to today’s statewide poll of residents from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind.

About a third (37 percent) say their finances are better today than they were a year ago, up from a fifth (18 percent) in January. Expectations are also up concerning where residents think their personal finances are headed in the year to come. Half of the residents (51 percent) believe things will improve for themselves and their family in the year to come, as compared to around a third in January of this year (34 percent).

“We’ve not seen numbers this good in quite some time,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “The last time that we saw numbers in the 30s you’d have to go all the way back to 2007 before the recession really kicked in.”

Those 60 and older are the least optimistic, and among the most likely to evaluate the past year poorly as it relates to their personal finances. Barely a quarter of this age group (24 percent) say things improved over the past year, and almost a third (29 percent) say they expect their situation to worsen in the coming year.

“These numbers suggest that growing old in the Garden State leaves something to be desired, at least financially,” says Jenkins. “Measures of consumer confidence can tell us a story about what we might expect from residents in the coming months.”

“If people feel reasonably good about their finances, they’re more apt to spend money on things they may have been holding back on. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing the same degree of confidence expressed regardless of age.”

When it comes to unemployment, more than half of the respondents (55 percent) have experienced a job loss, either personally or through a relative or friend. This number remains virtually unchanged from when the question was last asked in January 2013 (56 percent).

Optimism really reigns when it comes to the housing market. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of residents say they expect houses in their area to increase in value in the coming year, a number that is up considerably from when the question was last asked in January2013. Back then, barely half (48 percent) had a similar impression about the trajectory of housing prices.

“This is an election year, and what people think about their finances is often a big consideration when choosing for whom to vote,” explains Jenkins. “Time will tell how strong of an influence pocketbook issues will be in shaping the outcome of upcoming elections. One thing is for certain, however, and that’s the rosier view people seem to have these days about the state of their own bottom lines.”

The poll of 588 New Jersey residents, aged 18 and older, was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from June 10 through June 16, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points.

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