SAN FRANCISCO — A majority of Californians believe the state’s economy is strong, but residents’ optimism about their own financial prospects is at its lowest point in five years, a new poll shows.
Only about one in three Californians, or 35 percent, expect their personal finances to improve in the coming year, while 49 percent believe they will stay about the same, the Field Poll found.
That’s the lowest level of optimism since a 1996 survey, the poll said.
In addition, the percentage of Californians positive about where the state’s economy will stand a year from now is at its weakest level since 1992, the middle of the state’s last recession, the Field Poll found.
While a majority believe the state’s economy is currently strong, 36 percent believe it will be in worse shape a year from now, while 40 percent think it will stay about the same and 20 percent anticipate improvement.
Forty-four percent of Californians surveyed lost money in the stock market last year, while 25 percent made money.
Another sign of declining consumer confidence: the percentage of state residents who think it’s a good time to make a major household purchase has dropped to 53 percent, 13 percentage points since last year.
The California poll comes amid signs of growing concern about the national economy.
The Federal Reserve, citing eroding consumer and business confidence and rising energy costs, cut interest rates Wednesday by a half percentage point, the second rate reduction in January.
The move was viewed as a strong signal the central bank plans to move aggressively to fight the growing threat of a recession.
The Field Poll surveyed 1,001 California adults by telephone at random Jan. 12-16. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Among its other findings:
• Fifty-six percent expect the state to experience serious economic downturns over the next five years. Thirty-six percent believe it will be good most or all the time.
• Forty-eight percent feel they are better off financially than they were a year ago. Twenty-three percent say their financial situation is about the same, and 27 percent say they are worst off.
• The percentage reporting themselves worse off rose 10 percentage points from last year. The percent of those who are better off dropped 7 percent.