2nd-quarter Report on New Jersey Consumer Views

New Jerseyans’ Confidence in their Financial Standing Continues to Decline:

Stimulus Checks Go to Pay Down Bills

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Tabular Results
Survey Details

According to the end-of-quarter New Jersey consumer survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business, New Jerseyans’ confidence in their financial standing continues to decline.  More than half (54%) say they are worse off financially now than they were a year ago, a six-point rise from March of this year, and a 13-point increase from January.

Just one in five people say they are better off financially than a year ago, a five-point decline from March and a seven-point decline from January.

“This is the first time in the six years in which we’ve taken this measure that a majority of people say their condition has worsened,” said James Almeida, associate dean of the Silberman College of Business and a professor of entrepreneurship.

At the same time, 34% say they think they’ll be better off a year from now, a six-point decline from the March survey, and 16% say they’re just not sure, a six-point increase from March. “People who are otherwise confident of their personal financial standing are seeing negative indicators about the economy in general, and that makes them less sure of their own prospects for the future,” Almeida said.

Younger people are much more optimistic about their future than older respondents.  While a majority (57%) of those age 30 and under say they’ll be better off a year from now, only 21% of those 60 and over share that optimism.  “The older people are, the more worried they are about adjusting to a dramatically changing economy,” Almeida said.

Nearly half (46%) say they are using their economic stimulus check to pay off bills. Another 23% say they’re saving it.  Just one in five (20%) say they are spending it.  “Middle-aged folks are using it to reduce debt,” said Almeida. “It’s a rational response to the perceived economic uncertainty.”

About one in four (24%) say they are somewhat or very worried that they might lose their job in the next 12 months.  The youngest workers (18-30) and the oldest (60+) are least likely to be worried. “Still, most folks seem confident of holding on to their jobs despite all the negative cues around them,” Almeida said, “which suggests an underlying resilience.”

The telephone survey of 1001 randomly selected adult residents throughout New Jersey who participate in household financial decisions was sponsored by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business and conducted by PublicMind from June 17 through June 29. It has a margin of error of +/-3% percentage points.

Contact: James Almeida  732-754-5461; Peter Woolley 973-670-3239

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 080702]