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Monmouth University Polling Institute

Garden State Quality of Life Bounces Back

Monday, October 21, 2013

Biggest gains in Central Hills and Northern Shore regions

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 +26.  This is an increase from the +21 rating recorded in April, which was a significant drop from prior post-Superstorm Sandy readings of +29 in February 2013 and +30 in December 2012.  A major factor is residents' overall rating of the state as a place to live.  Currently, nearly 2-in-3 say New Jersey is either an excellent (19%) or good (46%) place to call home, compared to 1-in-3 who rate it as only fair (25%) or poor (10%).  This 65% positive rating is up by 4 points from the April poll.

Local evaluations have also gone up.  Specifically, 72% of New Jerseyans currently rate their town or city positively, which is up 5 points since April.  Opinions of local environmental quality also increased by 5 points to a 75% positive rating.  Also, 62% of New Jerseyans give positive marks to their local schools, up 3 points since April.  Ratings of neighborhood safety is the only factor that remained stable, at 65% positive.

"Our quality of life index saw a big drop in April after a period of goodwill in Sandy's immediate aftermath.  It now looks like last spring's negativity was temporary," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index score showed increases across nearly every demographic group compared to April's results.  There is some variation across different regions of the state, though.  The overall index score climbed 14 points among Central Hills residents (+52) and 11 points among Northern Shore residents (+33).  The Central Hills index score is the highest recorded in any region of the state in any Garden State Quality of Life Index poll going back to 2010.  It's also worth noting that the Northern Shore's April score showed one of the largest regional declines compared to prior results, but it is now on par with this region's pre-Sandy readings.

The current poll saw smaller regional increases in the Delaware Valley (up 6 points to +27) and Urban Core counties (up 4 points to +8).  The Delaware Valley score is among the highest recorded for this region going back to 2010, while the Urban Core score remains among the lowest.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index Score stayed stable or declined slightly among Route 1 Corridor residents (up 2 points to +21), Garden Core residents (down 2 points to +19) and Northeast region residents (down 4 points to +27).  The Route 1 Corridor region's index score saw the largest post-Sandy drop in April; although the February index score for this region was exceptionally high compared to prior polls.

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 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 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 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 latest Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone with 783 New Jersey adults from September 6 to 10, 2013.  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 from September 6 to 10, 2013 with a statewide random sample of 783 adult residents, including 580 via live interview on a landline telephone and 203 via live interview 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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