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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

ExcellentGoodOnly
Fair
Poor(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)

Sept. 201461%13%48%25%13%1%(802)
June 201462%15%47%26%11%0%(800)
April 201464%15%49%26%10%0%(803)
Feb. 201463%15%48%26%11%0%(803)
Dec. 201365%20%45%26%9%0%(802)
Sept. 201365%19%46%25%10%1%(783)
April 201361%15%46%27%11%0%(806)
Feb. 201368%18%50%24%7%1%(803)
Dec. 201272%20%52%21%5%1%(816)
Sept. 201265%15%50%23%11%0%(805)
July 201269%17%52%23%8%0%(803)
April 201270%20%50%23%7%0%(804)
Feb. 201262%15%47%26%11%1%(803)
Oct. 201167%15%52%24%8%0%(817)
Aug. 201157%14%43%31%11%1%(802)
May 201159%14%45%29%11%0%(807)
Dec. 201063%17%46%26%10%1%(2864)
Oct. 200763%17%46%25%12%1%(1001)
Aug. 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)
Feb. 199471%18%53%22%7%0%(801)
March 199068%21%47%25%6%1%(800)
Feb. 198878%27%51%17%4%1%(800)
Feb. 198784%31%53%11%4%0%(800)
May 198581%29%52%14%3%1%(500)
Oct. 198480%29%51%15%4%1%(1000)
Jan. 198166%16%50%26%7%1%(1003)
July 198068%18%50%23%7%2%(1005)

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

TREND:

Excellent/
Good

ExcellentGoodOnly
Fair
Poor(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)

Sept. 201469%24%45%22%10%0%(802)
April 201471%27%44%20%9%0%(803)
Feb. 201470%31%39%23%7%0%(803)
Dec. 201370%29%41%21%8%1%(802)
Sept. 201372%32%40%18%9%1%(783)
April 201367%29%38%25%8%0%(806)
Feb. 201373%30%43%20%7%0%(803)
Dec. 201274%32%42%17%9%0%(816)
Sept. 201272%33%39%19%9%0%(805)
July 201274%32%42%18%7%1%(803)
April 201276%34%42%17%7%0%(804)
Feb. 201274%33%41%21%5%0%(803)
Oct. 201173%26%47%20%8%0%(817)
Aug. 201176%28%48%18%6%0%(802)
May 201173%33%40%20%7%0%(807)
Dec. 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)
Sept. 198872%26%46%18%9%1%(500)
Oct. 198471%30%41%21%7%1%(999)
June 198067%23%44%24%9%0%(1005)
May 197766%25%41%24%10%0%(1005)

[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?

TREND:

Excellent/
Good

ExcellentGoodOnly FairPoor(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)

April 201472%24%48%21%5%1%(802)
April 201476%27%49%18%6%0%(803)
Feb. 201473%29%44%21%6%0%(803)
Dec. 201369%27%42%24%7%0%(802)
Sept. 201375%30%45%18%7%1%(783)
April 201370%27%43%22%7%0%(806)
Feb. 201371%26%45%24%4%2%(803)
Dec. 201273%25%48%20%7%1%(816)
Sept. 201272%30%42%20%7%0%(805)
July 201274%30%44%19%7%1%(803)
April 201275%30%45%18%6%1%(804)
Feb. 201277%29%48%17%5%0%(803)
Oct. 201172%25%47%19%9%0%(817)
Aug. 201179%31%48%16%5%0%(802)
May 201179%33%46%15%6%0%(807)
Dec. 201066%14%52%25%9%0%(2864)
April 200170%27%43%22%7%1%(402)
Sept. 198853%10%43%31%15%1%(500)

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

TREND:

Excellent/
Good

ExcellentGoodOnly FairPoor(VOL)
Don’t know

(n)

Sept. 201460%21%39%24%9%7%(802)
April 201463%24%39%22%9%6%(803)
Feb. 201461%22%39%22%10%7%(803)
Dec. 201360%20%40%23%12%5%(802)
Sept. 201362%24%38%21%7%9%(783)
April 201359%21%38%27%9%5%(806)
Feb. 201364%24%40%20%7%9%(803)
Dec. 201261%21%40%23%7%9%(816)
Sept. 201261%27%34%21%10%8%(805)
July 201261%22%39%20%11%8%(803)
April 201263%23%40%21%7%8%(804)
Feb. 201268%26%42%16%8%8%(803)
Oct. 201160%21%39%20%13%7%(817)
Aug. 201163%19%44%26%6%5%(802)
May 201163%24%39%22%10%6%(807)
Dec. 201064%24%40%23%8%5%(2864)
Aug. 200461%24%37%17%12%9%(800)
April 200164%21%43%21%6%9%(802)
Sept. 199962%18%44%21%9%8%(802)
Sept. 199862%20%42%23%9%7%(804)
Feb. 199660%20%40%20%11%9%(804)
Sept. 199352%16%36%29%14%5%(801)
Jan. 199253%15%38%26%15%5%(800)
Oct. 198760%14%46%23%6%11%(500)
Oct. 198655%15%40%26%10%9%(800)
Oct. 198359%16%43%23%10%8%(802)
May 197852%12%40%25%12%11%(1003)

5. 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. 201458%36%6%0%(802)
April 201466%30%4%1%(803)
Feb. 201467%28%6%0%(803)
Dec. 201360%33%7%0%(802)
Sept. 201365%27%7%1%(783)
April 201366%28%6%0%(806)
Feb. 201363%30%6%1%(803)
Dec. 201264%29%6%1%(816)
Sept. 201265%25%6%0%(805)
July 201260%32%7%1%(803)
April 201264%31%5%1%(804)
Feb. 201262%32%5%0%(803)
Oct. 201162%31%7%0%(817)
Aug. 201163%31%6%0%(802)
May 201168%27%5%0%(807)
Dec. 201059%35%6%0%(2864)
Feb. 199342%44%13%0%(801)
Oct. 198751%36%11%2%(499)
Oct. 198453%36%9%2%(500)
May 198143%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% Dem50% Male28% 18-34

63% White

45% Ind50% Female38% 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 crosstabs