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Garden State Quality of Life Bounces Back

Monday, Oct. 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.

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)

September 201365%19%46%25%10%1%(783)
April 201361%15%46%27%11%0%(806)
February 201368%18%50%24%7%1%(803)
December 201272%20%52%21%5%1%(816)
September 201265%15%50%23%11%0%(805)
July 201269%17%52%23%8%0%(803)
April 201270%20%50%23%7%0%(804)
February 201262%15%47%26%11%1%(803)
October 201167%15%52%24%8%0%(817)
August 201157%14%43%31%11%1%(802)
May 201159%14%45%29%11%0%(807)
December 201063%17%46%26%10%1%(2864)
October 200763%17%46%25%12%1%(1001)
August 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)
February 199471%18%53%22%7%0%(801)
March 199068%21%47%25%6%1%(800)
February 198878%27%51%17%4%1%(800)
February 198784%31%53%11%4%0%(800)
May 198581%29%52%14%3%1%(500)
October 198480%29%51%15%4%1%(1000)
January 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)

September 201372%32%40%18%9%1%(783)
April 201367%29%38%25%8%0%(806)
February 201373%30%43%20%7%0%(803)
December 201274%32%42%17%9%0%(816)
September 201272%33%39%19%9%0%(805)
July 201274%32%42%18%7%1%(803)
April 201276%34%42%17%7%0%(804)
February 201274%33%41%21%5%0%(803)
October 201173%26%47%20%8%0%(817)
August 201176%28%48%18%6%0%(802)
May 201173%33%40%20%7%0%(807)
December 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)
September 198872%26%46%18%9%1%(500)
October 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
Fair
Poor(VOL)
Don’t
know

(n)

September 201375%30%45%18%7%1%(783)
April 201370%27%43%22%7%0%(806)
February 201371%26%45%24%4%2%(803)
December 201273%25%48%20%7%1%(816)
September 201272%30%42%20%7%0%(805)
July 201274%30%44%19%7%1%(803)
April 201275%30%45%18%6%1%(804)
February 201277%29%48%17%5%0%(803)
October 201172%25%47%19%9%0%(817)
August 201179%31%48%16%5%0%(802)
May 201179%33%46%15%6%0%(807)
December 201066%14%52%25%9%0%(2864)
April 200170%27%43%22%7%1%(402)
September 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
Fair
Poor(VOL)
Don’t
know

(n)

September 201362%24%38%21%7%9%(783)
April 201359%21%38%27%9%5%(806)
February 201364%24%40%20%7%9%(803)
December 201261%21%40%23%7%9%(816)
September 201261%27%34%21%10%8%(805)
July 201261%22%39%20%11%8%(803)
April 201263%23%40%21%7%8%(804)
February 201268%26%42%16%8%8%(803)
October 201160%21%39%20%13%7%(817)
August 201163%19%44%26%6%5%(802)
May 201163%24%39%22%10%6%(807)
December 201064%24%40%23%8%5%(2864)
August 200461%24%37%17%12%9%(800)
April 200164%21%43%21%6%9%(802)
September 199962%18%44%21%9%8%(802)
September 199862%20%42%23%9%7%(804)
February 199660%20%40%20%11%9%(804)
September 199352%16%36%29%14%5%(801)
January 199253%15%38%26%15%5%(800)
October 198760%14%46%23%6%11%(500)
October 198655%15%40%26%10%9%(800)
October 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)

September 201365%27%7%1%(783)
April 201366%28%6%0%(806)
February 201363%30%6%1%(803)
December 201264%29%6%1%(816)
September 201265%25%6%0%(805)
July 201260%32%7%1%(803)
April 201264%31%5%1%(804)
February 201262%32%5%0%(803)
October 201162%31%7%0%(817)
August 201163%31%6%0%(802)
May 201168%27%5%0%(807)
December 201059%35%6%0%(2864)
February 199342%44%13%0%(801)
October 198751%36%11%2%(499)
October 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 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.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

37% Dem49% Male27% 18-34

63% White

42% Ind51% Female40% 35-54

13% Black

21% Rep 33% 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