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Garden State Quality of Life Dips

Wednesday, Aug. 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.

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some rows 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)

July 2012 69% 17% 52% 23% 8% 0% (803)
April 2012 70% 20% 50% 23% 7% 0% (804)
February 2012 62% 15% 47% 26% 11% 1% (803)
October 2011 67% 15% 52% 24% 8% 0% (817)
August 2011 57% 14% 43% 31% 11% 1% (802)
May 2011 59% 14% 45% 29% 11% 0% (807)
December 2010 63% 17% 46% 26% 10% 1% (2864)
October 2007 63% 17% 46% 25% 12% 1% (1001)
August 2004 68% 22% 46% 21% 10% 1% (800)
May 2003 72% 20% 52% 23% 5% 0% (1002)
April 2001 76% 23% 53% 19% 4% 1% (802)
March 2000 76% 25% 51% 17% 6% 0% (800)
May 1999 76% 22% 54% 19% 5% 0% (800)
February 1994 71% 18% 53% 22% 7% 0% (801)
March 1990 68% 21% 47% 25% 6% 1% (800)
February 1988 78% 27% 51% 17% 4% 1% (800)
February 1987 84% 31% 53% 11% 4% 0% (800)
May 1985 81% 29% 52% 14% 3% 1% (500)
October 1984 80% 29% 51% 15% 4% 1% (1000)
January 1981 66% 16% 50% 26% 7% 1% (1003)
July 1980 68% 18% 50% 23% 7% 2% (1005)
  1. 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)

July 2012 74% 32% 42% 18% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 76% 34% 42% 17% 7% 0% (804)
February 2012 74% 33% 41% 21% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 73% 26% 47% 20% 8% 0% (817)
August 2011 76% 28% 48% 18% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 73% 33% 40% 20% 7% 0% (807)
December 2010 73% 27% 46% 20% 8% 0% (2864)
May 2003 74% 29% 45% 19% 7% 0% (1002)
April 2001 73% 28% 45% 21% 6% 0% (802)
May 1995 70% 30% 40% 21% 8% 0% (802)
June 1994 72% 31% 41% 19% 9% 0% (801)
September 1988 72% 26% 46% 18% 9% 1% (500)
October 1984 71% 30% 41% 21% 7% 1% (999)
June 1980 67% 23% 44% 24% 9% 0% (1005)
May 1977 66% 25% 41% 24% 10% 0% (1005)

[QUESTIONS 3, 4 AND 5 WERE ROTATED]

  1. 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)

July 2012 74% 30% 44% 19% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 75% 30% 45% 18% 6% 1% (804)
February 2012 77% 29% 48% 17% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 72% 25% 47% 19% 9% 0% (817)
August 2011 79% 31% 48% 16% 5% 0% (802)
May 2011 79% 33% 46% 15% 6% 0% (807)
December 2010 66% 14% 52% 25% 9% 0% (2864)
April 2001 70% 27% 43% 22% 7% 1% (402)
September 1988 53% 10% 43% 31% 15% 1% (500)
  1. 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)

July 2012 61% 22% 39% 20% 11% 8% (803)
April 2012 63% 23% 40% 21% 7% 8% (804)
February 2012 68% 26% 42% 16% 8% 8% (803)
October 2011 60% 21% 39% 20% 13% 7% (817)
August 2011 63% 19% 44% 26% 6% 5% (802)
May 2011 63% 24% 39% 22% 10% 6% (807)
December 2010 64% 24% 40% 23% 8% 5% (2864)
August 2004 61% 24% 37% 17% 12% 9% (800)
April 2001 64% 21% 43% 21% 6% 9% (802)
September 1999 62% 18% 44% 21% 9% 8% (802)
September 1998 62% 20% 42% 23% 9% 7% (804)
February 1996 60% 20% 40% 20% 11% 9% (804)
September 1993 52% 16% 36% 29% 14% 5% (801)
January 1992 53% 15% 38% 26% 15% 5% (800)
October 1987 60% 14% 46% 23% 6% 11% (500)
October 1986 55% 15% 40% 26% 10% 9% (800)
October 1983 59% 16% 43% 23% 10% 8% (802)
May 1978 52% 12% 40% 25% 12% 11% (1003)
  1. 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)

July 2012 60% 32% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 64% 31% 5% 1% (804)
February 2012 62% 32% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 62% 31% 7% 0% (817)
August 2011 63% 31% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 68% 27% 5% 0% (807)
December 2010 59% 35% 6% 0% (2864)
February 1993 42% 44% 13% 0% (801)
October 1987 51% 36% 11% 2% (499)
October 1984 53% 36% 9% 2% (500)
May 1981 43% 43% 13% 1% (497)

[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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

35% Dem 48% Male 28% 18-34

63% White

44% Ind 52% Female 40% 35-54

12% Black

22% Rep   32% 55+

16% Hispanic

     

      9% Asian/Other

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