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As the holiday buying season begins, Californians' confidence in their economic futures is declining, a new statewide survey by San Jose State University finds.

SJSU's Survey and Policy Research Institute says that its overall consumer sentiment index has dropped 10 points in the last year to 64.5, and the index of future expectations has dropped as well. The poll, conducted in October, found that 43 percent of California adults described their personal financial situations as worse than they were a year earlier.

As constructed, the index rates anything above 100 as positive and anything below that level as negative. It's similar to the national index of consumer confidence developed at the University of Michigan, and the latest SJSU survey results closely track those at the national level in the latest Michigan poll.

"The good news here is that we are starting to see some improvement in consumer
confidence statewide," said Melinda Jackson, the institute's research director. "The bad news is that attitudes are still fairly pessimistic overall. We may have turned the corner on the worst of the recession, but there is not a lot of hope for a quick recovery in these numbers."

In fact, 85 percent of the survey's respondents believe that the state remains in recession, even though technically it has hit bottom and is in recovery, and more half said they expected recession to continue for at least three more years.


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