Three out of every four people in Central California say they are generally satisfied with their current financial situation, according to a study released today by the Consortium of Social and Economic Research Centers at California State University, Fresno.

In addition, most area residents are optimistic about their future financial situation.

Only 25 percent of people sampled in Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Kings counties said they were not satisfied with their financial status. And only 13 percent expect their financial situations to worsen in the next year.

The survey was conducted last spring.

“Despite the perception that the local economy has not been performing as well as the state or national economies, most people in the region are satisfied with their financial situation and an only a small minority expect their situations to get worse,” said Dr. Scott Houser, associate professor in Fresno State’s Department of Economics, who conducted the research.”

These data were collected before the attacks on September 11 and the subsequent worsening of the economy.

“I would expect that these events have caused a number of local residents to downgrade their assessments of their future financial situations,” added Houser.

Assessments of current financial situation varied by county, race and ethnicity, the study found. More residents of Madera County (almost 30 percent) said they were not satisfied and persons of racial/ethnic groups were significantly more likely to report being dissatisfied with their situation. Whereas non-Hispanic whites registered a 20.6 percent dissatisfaction, Hispanics were 25.1 percent and others were 43 percent.

Also, persons with lower income and lower levels of education were more dissatisfied with their financial status.

Looking to the future, almost 40 percent of the people surveyed expect their financial situations to improve in the next year. And 47 percent say they think their situations will stay the same.

Fresno County residents are more likely to think that things will stay the same, and Madera and Tulare county residents think things will change, either for better or worse.

Almost 60 percent of those surveyed indicated they do not expect to change jobs in the next year. Another 19 percent thought a change was somewhat likely, 17 percent thought it very likely and 5 percent didn’t know.

Hispanics, people with lower incomes and people under 30 years of age were more likely to anticipate a change in employment.

The Consortium of Social and Economic Research Centers comprises Fresno State faculty members and research centers which apply their research skills to examine issues in the San Joaquin Valley. Other CSERC reports have focused on quality of life and urban growth.