Massachusetts tops list of states with highest confidence in personal finances

Amid the financial turmoil and economic strife that has racked markets on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months, it's been challenging for average consumers to find a source of hope or confidence.

Amid the financial turmoil and economic strife that has racked markets on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months, it's been challenging for average consumers to find a source of hope or confidence.

However, many of these economic challenges boil down to individual markets and regions. For example, the West and southwestern states, particularly California and Nevada, are reeling from the highest unemployment rates, while the Midwest is boasting the lowest.

A survey released this week by research firm Empathica gauges consumers' confidence in personal finances by state.

The report found Massachusetts and Georgia to lead the nation in residents who expect their personal financial situations to improve within the next six months, with 47.3 percent and 45.4 percent saying so, respectively. Connecticut and Wisconsin were the least optimistic, however, with only 24.7 percent and 22.3 percent of residents expressing similar optimism.

"Each state is dealing with unique financial issues in today's market that ultimately influences consumer spending intentions and their retailer preferences," said Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. "In addition to discounts, less optimistic consumers tend to seek alternative spending such as restaurant-type takeout available in grocery stores."