When it comes to personal finances, there's not a lot of optimism among most New Jersey residents, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds.

“Right now we find little change from last year. Only a quarter believe the coming year will bring about improvement in their finances, and 20 percent say they actually lost ground in 2015,” said PublicMind Director Krista Jenkins, a professor of political science.

The survey looked at the personal finances of Garden State residents, how they fared during 2015 and what they expect to happen for the rest of this year.

About 54 percent say their finances are likely to remain the same moving forward, and 62 percent say nothing really changed for them last year, the poll found.

Jenkins said the poll also found “that more in 2015 said things had worsened for them personally as compared to what respondents say today.”

So what can we take away from this?

“It looks like it’s the same story, different day. And while holding your own is certainly preferable to losing ground, who wouldn’t want to see more people expressing optimism for the future?” she said.

The survey also finds there’s been some change in people’s perception of the business climate in New Jersey.

“In 2015 a fifth, or 21 percent said business conditions had improved in the previous year, and today that number is down to 16 percent,” said Jenkins.

She continued “last year we found that almost a third, or 31 percent said they expected the business climate to improve in the coming year, but today that number is closer to a quarter or 23 percent. And 42 percent today believe the business climate is unchanged from last year, and 52 percent say things will likely stay the same in the coming year.”

She also noted the state’s declining unemployment rate is reflected in what people said concerning their experiences with job loss.

“When asked if they or anyone they know lost a job in the past year, 40 percent of respondents said yes, whereas a year ago that same question yielded a 49 percent response in the yes category,” she said.

The poll also finds millennials "are comparatively upbeat" with 44 percent saying they expect things to improve in the coming year, and a third saying that last year was good to their bottom line.

"This could be good news for the Garden State, as it suggests there’s hope for a new generation of residents to remain in the state in their post-college, post-teenage years rather than head out of the state and go to other parts of the country where there’s a perception of greener pastures," she said.

The FDU poll was conducted by telephone from Feb. 24-28 using a randomly selected sample of 811 self-identified registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percent.

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