1st Quarter Report on New Jersey Consumer Views

Jerseyans Say They’re Worse Off

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According to the end-of-quarter New Jersey consumer survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business, New Jerseyans’ see their financial well-being declining.  One in four (25%) New Jersey adults say they're better off financially than a year ago but two in four (49%) say they are worse off than a year ago.  The percent who say they're worse off has increased eight points since January to 49 percent from 41 percent.  The percent who say their financial position is about the same as a year ago declined since January by seven points to 23 percent from 30 percent.

“The prospect of a broad economic downturn continues to cause discomfort throughout New Jersey,” said William Moore, dean of the Silberman College of Business at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  "People are ever-hopeful for their personal prospects. But this economy is fragile and things may get worse before they get any better."

On the other side of the equation, 40% say they think they'll be better off financially a year from now compared to 35% who think they'll be worse off.  Those under 30 are more upbeat about their position and prospects. Half say they are better off now than a year ago and more than half say they’ll be better off a year from now.  However, the majority of those 45 and over say they’re worse off now than they were. “In an uncertain economic environment it tends to be those nearing retirement who are most concerned,” added Moore.

Four of five consumers (79%) say they won't be taking on more credit debt.  At the same time, those who say they are having a “somewhat” or “very difficult” time making payments on their outstanding balances increased to 31% from 25% three months ago.

Many consumers will be getting stimulus money in the form of a check from the federal government this spring but only 17% say they'd spend an extra $1000 if it came their way.  Instead, 44% say they'll use it to pay off bills and 32 percent say they'll save it. 

"Consumers have a lot of economic worry,” said Moore.  “The federal tax rebate might allow them to pay off debts and relieve some of the worry, but the champions of that stimulus plan were thinking that people would buy goods and services.”

While a majority of those employed (57%) say they're not at all worried about losing their job and 20% say they're not very worried, 23% say they're “somewhat worried” or “very worried” they might lose their job in the next 12 months. 

“New Jersey’s economy is diverse and global. So far it has been able to provide a great deal of employment opportunity,” said Moore.  “A recession will focus attention on the need to work to afford the basic necessities rather than to get ahead, provide a life of comfort, or plan for an early retirement,” he added.

The telephone survey of 800 randomly selected adult residents throughout New Jersey was sponsored by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business and conducted by PublicMind from March 24 through March 30 and has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.

Contact:  Dr. William Moore 201-259-0485

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

Copyright © 2008, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 080407]