The latest Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll finds that New Jersey consumer confidence is improving.

More than a third of the residents surveyed believe they're better off financially now than they were last year, compared with just 18 percent who felt that way in January.

Poll director Krista Jenkins says 51 percent expect things will improve in the coming year.

"We're finding that younger people are more positive. They're more optimistic," Jenkins said. "They seem to have better experiences over the past year. It's really the 60 and older crowd who are the most pessimistic and who have had the hardest experiences financially over the past year."

The poll shows there's plenty of optimism about the housing market. Nearly three-quarters of those polled expect that homes in their area will increase in value in the next year.

But Jenkins said it's unclear how the increase in consumer confidence might affect the state's elections in next month, October and November.

"When you have people who are feeling quite good about their own personal finances that usually bodes well for incumbents," she said. "But this is a snapshot, so I think it's too early to tell what these numbers are going to mean for both the gubernatorial and the Senate races coming up."