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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Quality of Life Dips

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Economic and safety concerns lead to slight decrease

In its regular tracking of residents' satisfaction with life in New Jersey, the Monmouth University Poll found that the current Garden State Quality of Life Index has dipped to +27, from +31 in April.  While this marks a decrease from the last result, it is still higher than all other prior readings going back to December 2010.

"After months of upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index, we have seen a slight drop that seems to be caused mainly by economic and security concerns," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Nearly 7-in-10 residents continue to rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (17%) or good (52%) place to live, but the excellent rating is down 3 points from April.  The other notable drop occurred in feelings of safety, with 60% of residents saying they feel very safe in their neighborhoods at night, down from 64% in April.  Positive results for other components in the Garden State Quality of Life Index - including ratings of residents' own towns (74%), local environment (74%), and schools (61%) - are all down by one or two points.

The overall drop in the Garden State Quality of Life Index seems to be concentrated among lower income households in more urban and rural parts of the state.  Among those earning less than $50,000, the index stands at +16, down 8 points from April.  There has also been a 14 point drop among residents of the Urban Core counties of Essex and Hudson (now +12) and a 10 point drop among the Garden Core counties which include the far southern and northwestern parts of the state (now +18).

Furthermore, the index has seen a decrease among New Jersey men - from +33 three months ago to +26 now - while the score among state women has been more stable - from +28 to +29 now.  The index score among older residents also declined.  New Jerseyans age 55 and over now score +30 on the index - down from +37 in April.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index was created by the Monmouth University Polling Institute 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.

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

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

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


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

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

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


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

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on July 18 to 22, 2012 with a statewide random sample of 803 adult residents, including 603 contacted on a landline telephone and 200 on a cell phone.  Live interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc. and the telephone sample was obtained from Survey Sampling International.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey questionnaire design, data weighting and analysis.  For results based on the total 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.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  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.

Region is defined by county boundaries:  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), and Garden Core (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Sussex, Warren).

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

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

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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- Monmouth University Polling Institute