New Zealand's economy is thriving but the mood of the country is not overly confident, with almost half of New Zealanders saying they are only just getting by day to day according to new research.

A report by ASB Bank and research agency TRA, Aligning with progress in New Zealanders lives, asked more than 1000 Kiwis what progress meant to them, and whether they felt they were progressing in their lives.

Just over half of those surveyed felt they were moving ahead, however 26 per cent felt they were standing still and 18 per cent said they were going backwards.

The research also showed 42 per cent of New Zealanders thought money was an issue, and they were only just getting by day to day.

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ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley said this was likely a result of the country's housing issues with most individual gains being offset by increases in rent or house prices.

"When you look at most measures, inequality has been pretty stable for a few decades but where there is a real issue is that income and equality may not have changed much, material deprivation may not have changed much but housing costs have," Tuffley said.

"Housing costs have gone up disproportionately compared to income, so for buying or renting, that's where we're seeing those issues."

Although wage increases for individuals might have been reasonable, when compared with rising house and rent prices, this was likely to give people the impression of standing still, Tuffley said, although moves were being made by the Government to address this.

One of the main findings of the report was that for most people, progress wasn't focused on the traditional boat, bach and BMW, but on the smaller everyday things such as a coffee in the morning, paying off bills, and getting enough sleep.

ASB general manager of marketing Shane Evans said it had been interesting to see how the definition of progress had changed over the generations.

"I think it's easy for us to get caught up on the big things in life like buying a car or a house, but it's actually the day to day things that enable us to feel like we're moving forward and have that momentum."

Progress was also viewed differently across generations, with the millennial age group viewing new toys as progress, compared with the older generations that viewed avoiding hard times as progress.

According to the report, the older individuals were, the less progress they experienced, dropping 5 per cent every 10 years on average.

"We see millennials may be more focused on wanting to buy a car or house, and for them that's the next step," Evans said.

"But then as you get older you're more focused on ensuring you're maintaining rather than getting ahead, so it's less about the 'things' and more about family and maintaining a good lifestyle."

The report was undertaken by ASB to enable the company to better deliver on results for its customers, Evans said.