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Garden State Quality of Life Hits Low

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014

Concerns about safety drive drop


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 stands at a four-year low of +18.  This is down significantly from the +25 score recorded this past spring.  The index had been hovering in the mid-20s throughout the past year.

Half of the overall index score comes from residents’ overall rating of the state as a place to live.  Currently, 6-in-10 New Jerseyans say the state is either an excellent (13%) or good (48%) place to call home, compared to nearly 4-in-10 who rate it as only fair (25%) or poor (13%).  This 61% positive rating is similar to the 62% positive rating recorded in June, but slightly lower than the 64% rating recorded in April.  It’s also worth noting that the 13% of state residents who give the lowest rating of “poor” is nominally, although not statistically, the largest percentage who have given this rating in statewide polls going back more than thirty years.

Local evaluations, which make up the other half of the index score, have dropped even more than the statewide ratings.  The biggest drop in positive evaluations has occurred around perceptions of personal safety.  Currently, 58% of Garden State residents say they feel very safe in their own neighborhood at night, which is down from 66% who said the same in April.

Positive evaluations of local environmental quality have dropped by four points, from 76% in April to 72% in the current poll.  Positive evaluations of local public schools have dropped by three points, from 63% in April to 60% in the current poll.  Finally, positive evaluations of one’s hometown as a place to live have also declined slightly, by two points from 71% in April to 69% in the current poll.

“The current score is at an all-time low in the nearly four years Monmouth University has been conducting its Garden State Quality of Life Index,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “While all aspects of quality of life perceptions are down, the real driving force is heightened uncertain over personal safety.”

The Garden State Quality of Life Index score declined most significantly among young adults age 18 to 34, from +31 in April to +12 in the current poll.  It also declined by double digits among black and Hispanic residents, from +16 in April to +5 in the current poll.  Regionally, the index score registered a 19 point drop in the Garden Core counties (now +4), a 10 point drop among Route 1 Corridor residents (now +12), and a seven point drop among Delaware Valley residents (now +18).  The index score declined by only one or two points in the remaining regions of the state, including the Central Hills (+42) which has typically been the most positive part of the state, the Northern Shore region (+27), the Northeast (+23), and the Urban Core (+8).

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 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

REGION

COMMUNITY TYPE

North

east

Urban Core

Route 1 Corridor

Central Hills

Northern Shore

Delaware Valley

Garden Core

Urban

Stable Town

Growing

Suburb

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

The latest Monmouth University Poll  was conducted by telephone with 802 New Jersey adults from September 17 to 21, 2014.  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.

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)

Sept. 2014 61% 13% 48% 25% 13% 1% (802)
June 2014 62% 15% 47% 26% 11% 0% (800)
April 2014 64% 15% 49% 26% 10% 0% (803)
Feb. 2014 63% 15% 48% 26% 11% 0% (803)
Dec. 2013 65% 20% 45% 26% 9% 0% (802)
Sept. 2013 65% 19% 46% 25% 10% 1% (783)
April 2013 61% 15% 46% 27% 11% 0% (806)
Feb. 2013 68% 18% 50% 24% 7% 1% (803)
Dec. 2012 72% 20% 52% 21% 5% 1% (816)
Sept. 2012 65% 15% 50% 23% 11% 0% (805)
July 2012 69% 17% 52% 23% 8% 0% (803)
April 2012 70% 20% 50% 23% 7% 0% (804)
Feb. 2012 62% 15% 47% 26% 11% 1% (803)
Oct. 2011 67% 15% 52% 24% 8% 0% (817)
Aug. 2011 57% 14% 43% 31% 11% 1% (802)
May 2011 59% 14% 45% 29% 11% 0% (807)
Dec. 2010 63% 17% 46% 26% 10% 1% (2864)
Oct. 2007 63% 17% 46% 25% 12% 1% (1001)
Aug. 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)
Feb. 1994 71% 18% 53% 22% 7% 0% (801)
March 1990 68% 21% 47% 25% 6% 1% (800)
Feb. 1988 78% 27% 51% 17% 4% 1% (800)
Feb. 1987 84% 31% 53% 11% 4% 0% (800)
May 1985 81% 29% 52% 14% 3% 1% (500)
Oct. 1984 80% 29% 51% 15% 4% 1% (1000)
Jan. 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)

Sept. 2014 69% 24% 45% 22% 10% 0% (802)
April 2014 71% 27% 44% 20% 9% 0% (803)
Feb. 2014 70% 31% 39% 23% 7% 0% (803)
Dec. 2013 70% 29% 41% 21% 8% 1% (802)
Sept. 2013 72% 32% 40% 18% 9% 1% (783)
April 2013 67% 29% 38% 25% 8% 0% (806)
Feb. 2013 73% 30% 43% 20% 7% 0% (803)
Dec. 2012 74% 32% 42% 17% 9% 0% (816)
Sept. 2012 72% 33% 39% 19% 9% 0% (805)
July 2012 74% 32% 42% 18% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 76% 34% 42% 17% 7% 0% (804)
Feb. 2012 74% 33% 41% 21% 5% 0% (803)
Oct. 2011 73% 26% 47% 20% 8% 0% (817)
Aug. 2011 76% 28% 48% 18% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 73% 33% 40% 20% 7% 0% (807)
Dec. 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)
Sept. 1988 72% 26% 46% 18% 9% 1% (500)
Oct. 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)

April 2014 72% 24% 48% 21% 5% 1% (802)
April 2014 76% 27% 49% 18% 6% 0% (803)
Feb. 2014 73% 29% 44% 21% 6% 0% (803)
Dec. 2013 69% 27% 42% 24% 7% 0% (802)
Sept. 2013 75% 30% 45% 18% 7% 1% (783)
April 2013 70% 27% 43% 22% 7% 0% (806)
Feb. 2013 71% 26% 45% 24% 4% 2% (803)
Dec. 2012 73% 25% 48% 20% 7% 1% (816)
Sept. 2012 72% 30% 42% 20% 7% 0% (805)
July 2012 74% 30% 44% 19% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 75% 30% 45% 18% 6% 1% (804)
Feb. 2012 77% 29% 48% 17% 5% 0% (803)
Oct. 2011 72% 25% 47% 19% 9% 0% (817)
Aug. 2011 79% 31% 48% 16% 5% 0% (802)
May 2011 79% 33% 46% 15% 6% 0% (807)
Dec. 2010 66% 14% 52% 25% 9% 0% (2864)
April 2001 70% 27% 43% 22% 7% 1% (402)
Sept. 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)

Sept. 2014 60% 21% 39% 24% 9% 7% (802)
April 2014 63% 24% 39% 22% 9% 6% (803)
Feb. 2014 61% 22% 39% 22% 10% 7% (803)
Dec. 2013 60% 20% 40% 23% 12% 5% (802)
Sept. 2013 62% 24% 38% 21% 7% 9% (783)
April 2013 59% 21% 38% 27% 9% 5% (806)
Feb. 2013 64% 24% 40% 20% 7% 9% (803)
Dec. 2012 61% 21% 40% 23% 7% 9% (816)
Sept. 2012 61% 27% 34% 21% 10% 8% (805)
July 2012 61% 22% 39% 20% 11% 8% (803)
April 2012 63% 23% 40% 21% 7% 8% (804)
Feb. 2012 68% 26% 42% 16% 8% 8% (803)
Oct. 2011 60% 21% 39% 20% 13% 7% (817)
Aug. 2011 63% 19% 44% 26% 6% 5% (802)
May 2011 63% 24% 39% 22% 10% 6% (807)
Dec. 2010 64% 24% 40% 23% 8% 5% (2864)
Aug. 2004 61% 24% 37% 17% 12% 9% (800)
April 2001 64% 21% 43% 21% 6% 9% (802)
Sept. 1999 62% 18% 44% 21% 9% 8% (802)
Sept. 1998 62% 20% 42% 23% 9% 7% (804)
Feb. 1996 60% 20% 40% 20% 11% 9% (804)
Sept. 1993 52% 16% 36% 29% 14% 5% (801)
Jan. 1992 53% 15% 38% 26% 15% 5% (800)
Oct. 1987 60% 14% 46% 23% 6% 11% (500)
Oct. 1986 55% 15% 40% 26% 10% 9% (800)
Oct. 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)

Sept. 2014 58% 36% 6% 0% (802)
April 2014 66% 30% 4% 1% (803)
Feb. 2014 67% 28% 6% 0% (803)
Dec. 2013 60% 33% 7% 0% (802)
Sept. 2013 65% 27% 7% 1% (783)
April 2013 66% 28% 6% 0% (806)
Feb. 2013 63% 30% 6% 1% (803)
Dec. 2012 64% 29% 6% 1% (816)
Sept. 2012 65% 25% 6% 0% (805)
July 2012 60% 32% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 64% 31% 5% 1% (804)
Feb. 2012 62% 32% 5% 0% (803)
Oct. 2011 62% 31% 7% 0% (817)
Aug. 2011 63% 31% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 68% 27% 5% 0% (807)
Dec. 2010 59% 35% 6% 0% (2864)
Feb. 1993 42% 44% 13% 0% (801)
Oct. 1987 51% 36% 11% 2% (499)
Oct. 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 sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 17 to 21, 2014 with a statewide random sample of 802 adult residents, including 602 contacted via live interview on a landline telephone and 200 via live interview on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis.  The final sample was weighted by age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample).  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 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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

36% Dem 50% Male 28% 18-34

63% White

45% Ind 50% Female 38% 35-54

13% Black

19% Rep   34% 55+

15% 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