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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Quality of Life Drops Again

Monday, October 08, 2012

State rating returns to 2011 levels

In its regular tracking of residents' satisfaction with life in New Jersey, the Monmouth University Poll finds the current Garden State Quality of Life Index at +24, which is the second straight drop off the prior high of +31 recorded in April 2012.  This marks a return to its level of a year ago, but is still higher than the initial +21 reading in December 2010.

"This past spring was marked by a heightened expectation that New Jersey was about to turn the corner.  With the continued sluggishness of the state's economic recovery continuing to stall and the evaporation of a promised tax credit, public optimism has faded," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Just under 2-in-3 residents rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (15%) or good (50%) place to live.  This 65% positive rating is down from 69% in July and 70% in April. 

Positive ratings of one's town as a place to live stand at 72% (down from 76% in April); positive ratings of the local environment are provided by 72% of state residents (down from 75% in April); and ratings of the local schools stand at 61% positive (down from 63% in April).  The one bright spot in the Garden State Quality of Life Index is views on crime. Currently, 65% of residents feel very safe in their neighborhoods at night, up from 60% in July and similar to the 64% positive rating in April.

In the prior poll, the overall drop in the Garden State Quality of Life Index was concentrated on the lower income end - declining from +24 in April to +16 in July.  That trend continues in the current poll with a further decrease to +10 among households earning less than $50,000.  A new trend in the current poll is that the index rating among middle income residents has also dropped, after holding steady in the prior poll.  Among those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, the index now stands at +23, down from +31 in July and +28 in April.  However, the index score among upper income New Jerseyans has held steady, though, at +37 among those earning more than $100,000 - which equals the July mark and is down slightly from +42 in April.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index has also dropped among urban residents, from +20 in April to +8 in July and to -1 in the current poll.  This negative rating for urban residents matches the October 2011 low point for this group of New Jerseyans.

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.

GARDEN STATE QUALITY OF LIFE INDEX  

 

NJ TOTAL  

GENDER  

AGE  

RACE  

INCOME  

Male

Female

18-34

35-54

55+

White

Black/ Hispanic

<$50K

$50-100K

>$100K

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  

 

REGION  

COMMUNITY TYPE  

North

east

Urban Core

Route 1 Corridor

Central Hills

Northern Shore

Delaware Valley

Garden Core

Urban

Stable Town

Growing

Suburb

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

The latest Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone with 805 New Jersey adults from September 19 to 23, 2012.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

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?

[QUESTIONS 3, 4 AND 5 WERE ROTATED]

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 September 19 to 23, 2012 with a statewide random sample of 805 adult residents, including 642 contacted on a landline telephone and 163 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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