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Quality of Life Index Stable; But Desire to Exit Jersey Ticks Up

Quality of Life Index Stable; But Desire to Exit Jersey Ticks Up

New Jersey

Growing partisan gap in devotion to Garden State

West Long Branch, NJ – The public’s views of New Jersey’s quality of life and rating of the state as a good place to live are toward the higher end of their historical range. However, the number of residents who want to leave the state is at a high point, according to the Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll.  The desire to exit New Jersey is showing a marked partisan gap, with more Republicans wanting to leave, that was not evident in prior years. Regardless, the state’s property tax burden remains the top reason people cite for their intention to get out of New Jersey, as it has been in the past.

Monmouth’s exclusive Garden State Quality of Life Index score now stands at +27, which is in line with last year’s +25 rating. The index number had jumped to +37 at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020. In the years prior it tended to range between +18 and +31, with an outlying low point of +13 registered in February 2019. The current reading is toward the higher end of index scores since Monmouth first started tracking this quality of life metric in 2010.

The quality of life index score has increased in most areas of the state over the past year, including the Central Hills (up 9 points to +42), Northern Shore (up 8 to +34), Delaware Valley (up 7 to +27), Garden Core (up 6 to +19), and Route 1 Corridor (up 5 to +28).  It has dropped slightly in the Northeast (down 3 points to +28) and by a larger number in the Urban Core counties (down 7 to +16).

“It’s worth noting that the areas with the least positive views of New Jersey’s quality of life are the heavily Democratic urban areas and the heavily Republican rural counties,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index was created by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in 2010 to serve as a resident-based indicator of the quality of life offered by the state of New Jersey. The index is based on five separate poll questions: overall opinion of the state as a place to live – which contributes half the index score – and ratings of one’s hometown, the performance of local schools, the quality of the local environment, and feelings of safety in one’s own neighborhood. The index can potentially range from –100 to +100.

A little under 2 in 3 New Jerseyans say the state is either an excellent (19%) or good (45%) place to live, while 22% say it is only fair and 13% rate the state as poor. The current positive rating of 64% is between last year’s 59% result and 68% in 2020. The all-time high mark for the state rating was 84% positive in February 1987. The record low was 50% in February 2019, but it improved to 61% by September of that year.

While the overall state rating has improved, a larger than ever number of New Jerseyans (59%) say they would like to move out of the state at some point.  Prior polls that asked this question between 2007 and 2014 found from 49% to 53% who wanted to leave. In all those instances, overall positive ratings of the state were similar to where they are today (between 61% and 63%) while the Garden State Quality of Life Index was significantly lower in 2014 (+18) than it is today (+27).

GARDEN STATE QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX
  GENDERAGE RACEINCOME 
 NJ
TOTAL

Male

Female

18-34

35-54

55+

White
Black/
Hispanic

<$50K

$50-100K

>$100K
April 2022+27+24+30+24+25+31+30+23+18+24+35
May 2021+25+20+29+24+24+27+25+20+17+25+31
April 2020+37+34+41+34+38+40+43+26+29+37+44
September 2019+24+21+26+21+20+32+31+13+18+20+33
February 2019+13+14+12+10+11+18+17+4+2+14+20
April 2018+18+16+20+22+14+20+22+5+8+16+27
July 2017+25+25+24+15+26+30+32+6+8+23+41
July 2015+18+18+18+25+11+20+24+5n/an/an/a
February 2015+23+21+26+26+18+28+29+10+13+30+31
September 2014+18+19+17+12+20+20+23+5+13+15+30
April 2014+25+24+25+31+20+25+27+16+17+24+33
February 2014+23+28+18+23+21+26+27+11+8+23+35
December 2013+24+25+23+24+21+27+29+10+10+24+35
September 2013+26+26+26+27+23+30+33+10+17+25+42
April 2013+21+19+24+19+19+27+29+3+12+19+35
February 2013+29+28+30+30+27+31+36+12+20+30+36
December 2012+30+31+29+30+30+30+36+14+17+33+38
September 2012+24+28+20+16+21+32+30+5+10+23+37
July 2012+27+26+29+21+31+30+32+16+16+31+37
April 2012+31+33+28+25+30+37+36+19+24+28+42
February 2012+25+20+30+25+24+26+29+13+17+23+38
October 2011+24+24+24+23+21+29+31+7+15+25+31
August 2011+22+25+19+27+19+21+26+9+9+22+32
May 2011+23+24+22+23+22+23+26+14+15+22+32
December 2010+21+20+23+23+20+23+26+13+15+21+31
GARDEN STATE QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX
REGIONCOMMUNITY TYPE
 North EastUrban CoreRoute 1 CorridorCentral HillsNorthern ShoreDelaware ValleyGarden Core
Urban
Stable TownGrowing Suburb
April 2022+28+16+28+42+34+27+19+15+31+31
May 2021+31+23+23+33+26+20+13+20+26+26
April 2020+41+30+40+49+46+33+21+18+41+45
September 2019+20+10+23+42+32+26+17+6+30+30
February 2019+21-1+16+27+21-3+9-1+15+19
April 2018+24+8+18+34+18+14+11+2+23+24
July 2017+25+18+34+33+35+22+13+7+31+29
July 2015+21+4+22+35+22+17+10-2+28+23
February 2015+31+13+24+38+31+11+19+11+30+27
September 2014+23+8+12+42+27+18+4+10+22+19
April 2014+24+10+22+43+29+25+23+4+26+33
February 2014+27+16+20+37+30+14+16+6+28+28
December 2013+31+15+26+40+25+14+17+5+29+30
September 2013+27+8+21+52+33+27+19+1+34+32
April 2013+31+4+19+38+22+21+21-3+30+27
February 2013+31+17+35+37+36+25+23+11+33+36
December 2012+36+18+26+47+40+21+31+9+37+37
September 2012+29+14+17+45+33+26+13-1+27+31
July 2012+37+12+30+37+34+22+18+8+34+34
April 2012+38+26+27+44+34+22+28+20+35+36
February 2012+33+17+27+35+29+19+22+11+31+29
October 2011+31+6+22+45+35+18+23-1+31+34
August 2011+24+16+21+38+27+26+6+4+29+25
May 2011+28+17+16+41+29+22+20+6+29+28
December 2010+26+15+22+38+23+14+17+12+23+27

“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Positive ratings of New Jersey as a place to live have ticked up a bit. But so has the sense that people want to get out of here someday. One possible explanation is that residents appreciate the benefits that New Jersey has to offer, but the cost of living does not make it sustainable in the long run,” said Murray.

Regardless of whether they want to leave, 36% of current state residents say it is very likely they will move out of the state at some point in their lives. This is a jump from 26% who said the same in 2014 and 28% in 2007.  Demographically, there has been a much bigger jump in this sentiment among younger adults under age 35 (up 17 points from 2014 to 42%) than among those age 35 to 54 (up 10 points to 43%) or 55 and older (up 8 points to 26%).

Six in ten of those who say they are at least somewhat likely to leave New Jersey cite financial concerns, with property taxes (26%) leading the list. Another 7% cite other taxes, 7% point to high housing costs, and 19% refer to the high cost of living in general. These are the same reasons people gave for wanting to leave in 2014, but there are more of them now.

Republicans (69%) and independents (64%) are much more likely than Democrats (47%) to say they want to leave the state. In 2014, however, similar number of Republicans (48%) and Democrats (46%) said they wanted to leave the state. The partisan results were also similar in 2007 (49% Republicans and 44% Democrats). In both years, independents were actually a little more likely than either partisan group to say they wanted to move out of New Jersey (55% in 2014 and 54% in 2007).

“Politics may also be playing a subtle role in wanting to get out of the state. We are already aware of the self-sorting that has gone on for the past generation where people gravitate to communities and counties within their states where the neighbors are more like them ideologically.  Who knows?  As individual states become redder or bluer, maybe we are starting to see the same thing happening across state lines,” said Murray

Turning back to other metrics that make up the Garden State Quality of Life Index, nearly 3 in 4 New Jerseyans rate their own town or city as an excellent (32%) or good (41%) place to live. The 73% positive hometown rating is slightly lower than last year (76%) and the record high in 2020 (79%).

The current poll registers ratings for local environmental quality at 76% positive – 31% excellent and 45% good, which is in line with last year’s results. School ratings have also been stable, now standing at 63% positive – 24% excellent and 39% good – compared with 64% in 2021. The percentage of Garden State residents who currently feel very safe in their own neighborhoods at night stands at 65%, similar to 67% last year.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 31 to April 4, 2022 with 802 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)       

1.Overall, how would you rate New Jersey as a place to live excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

TREND*:Excellent/
Good

Excellent

Good

Only Fair

Poor
(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)
April 202264%19%45%22%13%1%(802)
May 202159%16%43%27%14%0%(706)
April 202068%24%44%23%7%1%(704)
September 201961%15%46%26%12%1%(713)
February 201950%11%39%32%17%1%(604)
April 201854%15%39%29%17%1%(703)
July 201759%15%44%28%13%0%(800)
May 201662%16%46%28%10%0%(806)
July 201555%12%43%30%15%0%(503)
May 201563%13%50%27%10%1%(500)
February 201563%15%48%25%11%1%(805)
September  201461%13%48%25%13%1%(802)
June 201462%15%47%26%11%0%(800)
April 201464%15%49%26%10%0%(803)
February 201463%15%48%26%11%0%(803)
December 201365%20%45%26%9%0%(802)
September 201365%19%46%25%10%1%(783)
April 201361%15%46%27%11%0%(806)
February 201368%18%50%24%7%1%(803)
December 201272%20%52%21%5%1%(816)
September 201265%15%50%23%11%0%(805)
July 201269%17%52%23%8%0%(803)
April 201270%20%50%23%7%0%(804)
February 201262%15%47%26%11%1%(803)
October 201167%15%52%24%8%0%(817)
August 201157%14%43%31%11%1%(802)
May 201159%14%45%29%11%0%(807)
December 201063%17%46%26%10%1%(2864)
October 200763%17%46%25%12%1%(1001)
August 200468%22%46%21%10%1%(800)
May 200372%20%52%23%5%0%(1002)
April 200176%23%53%19%4%1%(802)
March 200076%25%51%17%6%0%(800)
May 199976%22%54%19%5%0%(800)
February 199471%18%53%22%7%0%(801)
March 199068%21%47%25%6%1%(800)
February 198878%27%51%17%4%1%(800)
February 198784%31%53%11%4%0%(800)
May 198581%29%52%14%3%1%(500)
October 198480%29%51%15%4%1%(1000)
January 198166%16%50%26%7%1%(1003)
July 198068%18%50%23%7%2%(1005)

[Q2-31 previously released.]

32.How would you rate your town or city as a place to live excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

TREND*:Excellent/
Good

Excellent

Good

Only Fair

Poor
(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)
April 202273%32%41%20%7%0%(802)
May 202176%33%43%19%5%0%(706)
April 202079%39%40%16%5%0%(704)
September 201972%32%40%20%7%0%(713)
February 201967%30%37%21%11%0%(604)
April 201871%30%41%20%9%0%(703)
July 201777%37%40%16%7%0%(800)
July 201571%29%42%19%10%0%(503)
February 201572%29%43%21%7%0%(805)
September 201469%24%45%22%10%0%(802)
April 201471%27%44%20%9%0%(803)
February 201470%31%39%23%7%0%(803)
December 201370%29%41%21%8%1%(802)
September 201372%32%40%18%9%1%(783)
April 201367%29%38%25%8%0%(806)
February 201373%30%43%20%7%0%(803)
December 201274%32%42%17%9%0%(816)
September 201272%33%39%19%9%0%(805)
July 201274%32%42%18%7%1%(803)
April 201276%34%42%17%7%0%(804)
February 201274%33%41%21%5%0%(803)
October 201173%26%47%20%8%0%(817)
August 201176%28%48%18%6%0%(802)
May 201173%33%40%20%7%0%(807)
December 201073%27%46%20%8%0%(2864)
May 200374%29%45%19%7%0%(1002)
April 200173%28%45%21%6%0%(802)
May 199570%30%40%21%8%0%(802)
June 199472%31%41%19%9%0%(801)
September 198872%26%46%18%9%1%(500)
October 198471%30%41%21%7%1%(999)
June 198067%23%44%24%9%0%(1005)
May 197766%25%41%24%10%0%(1005)

[QUESTIONS 33-35 WERE ROTATED]

33.How would you rate the quality of the environment in the area where you live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

TREND*:Excellent/
Good

Excellent

Good

Only Fair

Poor
(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)
April 202276%31%45%17%7%0%(802)
May 202176%32%44%18%6%0%(706)
April 202081%36%45%15%4%0%(704)
September 201972%31%41%22%6%1%(713)
February 201971%27%44%21%8%0%(604)
April 201873%29%44%20%6%1%(703)
July 201776%37%39%14%8%1%(800)
July 201571%27%44%20%9%0%(503)
February 201572%27%45%23%4%0%(805)
September 201472%24%48%21%5%1%(802)
April 201476%27%49%18%6%0%(803)
February 201473%29%44%21%6%0%(803)
December 201369%27%42%24%7%0%(802)
September 201375%30%45%18%7%1%(783)
April 201370%27%43%22%7%0%(806)
February 201371%26%45%24%4%2%(803)
December 201273%25%48%20%7%1%(816)
September 201272%30%42%20%7%0%(805)
July 201274%30%44%19%7%1%(803)
April 201275%30%45%18%6%1%(804)
February 201277%29%48%17%5%0%(803)
October 201172%25%47%19%9%0%(817)
August 201179%31%48%16%5%0%(802)
May 201179%33%46%15%6%0%(807)
December 201066%14%52%25%9%0%(2864)
April 200170%27%43%22%7%1%(402)
September 198853%10%43%31%15%1%(500)

34.How would you rate the job your local schools are doing – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?

TREND*:Excellent/
Good

Excellent

Good

Only Fair

Poor
(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)
April 202263%24%39%16%11%10%(802)
May 202164%24%40%18%8%10%(706)
April 202073%33%40%16%4%7%(704)
September 201960%26%34%23%9%9%(713)
February 201959%19%40%22%10%9%(604)
April 201860%24%36%23%10%7%(703)
July 201765%26%39%20%10%6%(800)
July 201560%27%33%22%9%8%(503)
February 201561%21%40%24%8%7%(805)
September 201460%21%39%24%9%7%(802)
April 201463%24%39%22%9%6%(803)
February 201461%22%39%22%10%7%(803)
December 201360%20%40%23%12%5%(802)
September 201362%24%38%21%7%9%(783)
April 201359%21%38%27%9%5%(806)
February 201364%24%40%20%7%9%(803)
December 201261%21%40%23%7%9%(816)
September 201261%27%34%21%10%8%(805)
July 201261%22%39%20%11%8%(803)
April 201263%23%40%21%7%8%(804)
February 201268%26%42%16%8%8%(803)
October 201160%21%39%20%13%7%(817)
August 201163%19%44%26%6%5%(802)
May 201163%24%39%22%10%6%(807)
December 201064%24%40%23%8%5%(2864)
August 200461%24%37%17%12%9%(800)
April 200164%21%43%21%6%9%(802)
September 199962%18%44%21%9%8%(802)
September 199862%20%42%23%9%7%(804)
February 199660%20%40%20%11%9%(804)
September 199352%16%36%29%14%5%(801)
January 199253%15%38%26%15%5%(800)
October 198760%14%46%23%6%11%(500)
October 198655%15%40%26%10%9%(800)
October 198359%16%43%23%10%8%(802)
May 197852%12%40%25%12%11%(1003)

35.How safe do you feel in your neighborhood at night – very safe, somewhat safe, or not at all safe?

TREND*:Very
safe
Somewhat
safe
Not at
all safe
(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)
April 202265%29%5%0%(802)
May 202167%31%2%0%(706)
April 202074%22%3%1%(704)
September 201968%27%5%0%(713)
February 201964%29%7%0%(604)
April 201865%29%5%0%(703)
July 201771%22%6%0%(800)
July 201567%27%6%0%(503)
February 201562%33%4%0%(805)
September 201458%36%6%0%(802)
April 201466%30%4%1%(803)
February 201467%28%6%0%(803)
December 201360%33%7%0%(802)
September 201365%27%7%1%(783)
April 201366%28%6%0%(806)
February 201363%30%6%1%(803)
December 201264%29%6%1%(816)
September 201265%25%6%0%(805)
July 201260%32%7%1%(803)
April 201264%31%5%1%(804)
February 201262%32%5%0%(803)
October 201162%31%7%0%(817)
August 201163%31%6%0%(802)
May 201168%27%5%0%(807)
December 201059%35%6%0%(2864)
February 199342%44%13%0%(801)
October 198751%36%11%2%(499)
October 198453%36%9%2%(500)
May 198143%43%13%1%(497)

36.As things stand now, would you like to move out of New Jersey at some point or would you like to stay here for the rest of your life?

TREND:April
2022
Sept.
2014
April
2010
Sept.
2009
Oct.
2007
Move out of New Jersey 59%50%53%50%49%
Stay in New Jersey 38%45%43%43%44%
(VOL) Don’t know3%5%4%7%7%
   (n)(802)(802)(804)(900)(801)

37.
Regardless of whether you want to leave New Jersey, how likely is it that you will actually move out of the state at some point in your life – very, somewhat, not too, or not all likely?

TREND:April
2022
Sept.
2014
Oct.
2007
Very likely36%26%28%
Somewhat likely 30%32%32%
Not too likely 17%17%16%
Not all likely 17%23%23%
(VOL) Don’t know1%2%1%
   (n)(802)(802)(801)

[Question 37A was asked of those who are likely to move out of New Jersey at some point: n=519, moe=+/-4.3 %.]

37A.What is the top reason why you are likely to move out of New Jersey? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

TREND:April
2022
Sept.
2014
Property taxes26%24%
Other taxes (income, sales)7%6%
High housing costs7%5%
Cost of living in general19%19%
TOTAL taxes/costs59%54%
   
Economic/job opportunity8%12%
Change of scenery5%12%
Be closer to family3%4%
Weather10%6%
Corruption/bad government4%2%
Congestion, overdevelopment2%2%
Environment, health2%3%
Schools0%1%
Crime1%2%
Bad place to raise a family0%2%
Other/No answer6%2%
   (n)(519)(426)

[Q38-45 previously released.]

* Note:  All trend results prior to 2005 come from Rutgers University’s Eagleton Poll.

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 31 to April 4, 2022 with a probability-based random sample of 802 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 280 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 522 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample).  For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

Standard Region (by county):

North – Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren

Central – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset

South – Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem

Expanded Region (by county):  Northeast (Bergen, Passaic), Urban Core (Essex, Hudson), Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union), Central Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset), Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean), Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester), Garden Core (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren).

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
24% Republican
40% Independent
36% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
28% 18-34
34% 35-54
38% 55+
 
58% White
12% Black
19% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
61% No degree
39% 4 year degree

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.