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Californians (slightly) more optimistic about state economy

February 09, 2012|By Walter Hamilton
  • A cable car rushes through the heart of San Francisco.
A cable car rushes through the heart of San Francisco. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Californians are more optimistic about the state economy and their own finances, although Bay Area residents are decidedly more upbeat than people in and around Los Angeles, according to a new survey.

Almost two-thirds of Californians say their personal finances are improving, 52% think the state’s economy is on the mend and 51% believe the jobs picture is brightening, according to the Citibank survey. Overall, according to the survey, nearly half of California residents say 2012 will be a better year than 2011.

But thanks in part to the improving fortunes of Silicon Valley, the mood is notably more optimistic in Northern California than elsewhere.

Whereas 73% of Bay Area residents predict their financial situation will improve over the next 12 months, only 61% of people in Los Angeles County feel that way. Likewise, only 1 in 2 Angelenos expect job opportunities to get better in the next year versus 62% in the Bay Area.

"Apple is doing really well, iPods are selling like hotcakes, Facebook is going public,” said Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, president of Citibank California. “There’s a lot of positive innovation and energy that’s happening in the north right now.”

Still, as with many things, economic optimism is all relative.

An index measuring optimism improved to -4 in the fourth quarter from -7 in the third quarter, a clear indication that the state has a long way to go.

The index was a downright giddy +11 in San Francisco. But it registered a dreary -6 in Los Angeles. It was -4 in San Diego and -5 elsewhere.

A couple of measurements pointed up the severe distress among some Californians.

Half of those surveyed said they have dipped into investments to pay for routine living expenses. And 55% of people aged 18 to 34 "changed living arrangements to save money." Translation: Many moved back home with Mom and Dad.

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