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Garden State Quality of Life Index Up

New Jersey

Now stands at +24; growing urban-suburban divide

In its quarterly tracking of New Jerseyans’ satisfaction with life in their state, the Monmouth University Poll found that the current Garden State Quality of Life Index has ticked up to +24.  The initial reading taken in December 2010 was +21, rising to +23 in May 2011 and dropping slightly to +22 in August.

“We have seen some upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index over the past few months, led by increasingly positive views of the state as a whole,” said Patrick Murray director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 2-in-3 residents rate New Jersey as either an excellent (15%) or good (52%) place to live.  This 67% positive rating is up from 57% in August and 63% nearly a year ago.  It marks the highest positive reading on this question since 68% of New Jerseyans said the same in a 2004 poll.

Positive views of residents’ local areas stayed stable, including ratings of one’s hometown (73%), environment (72%), crime (62%), and schools (60%).

The Garden State Quality of Life Index score did experience a significant uptick among older residents.  It now stands at +29 among state residents age 55 and older, compared to +21 for those 35 to 54 and +23 for those 18 to 34.

There is also a growing disparity between New Jersey’s urban and suburban communities.  Last year, the Garden State Quality of Life Index score from residents of urban areas stood at +12 compared to +23 in stable towns and +27 in growing suburbs.  The urban score is now -1 compared to +31 in stable towns and +34 in growing suburbs.

The index score among black and Hispanic residents (+7) is now half of where it stood last year (+13).  It has increased slightly among white residents (+31 up from +26).

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 817 New Jersey adults from October 5 to 9, 2011.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.4 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:

(* 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?



Don’t know


October 201115%52%24%8%0%(817)
August 201114%43%31%11%1%(802)
May 201114%45%29%11%0%(807)
December 201017%46%26%10%1%(2864)
October 200717%46%25%12%1%(1001)
August 200422%46%21%10%1%(800)
May 200320%52%23%5%0%(1002)
April 200123%53%19%4%1%(802)
March 200025%51%17%6%0%(800)
May 199922%54%19%5%0%(800)
February 199418%53%22%7%0%(801)
March 199021%47%25%6%1%(800)
February 198827%51%17%4%1%(800)
February 198731%53%11%4%0%(800)
May 198529%52%14%3%1%(500)
October 198429%51%15%4%1%(1000)
January 198116%50%26%7%1%(1003)
July 198018%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?



Don’t know


October 201126%47%20%8%0%(817)
August 201128%48%18%6%0%(802)
May 201133%40%20%7%0%(807)
December 201027%46%20%8%0%(2864)
May 200329%45%19%7%0%(1002)
April 200128%45%21%6%0%(802)
May 199530%40%21%8%0%(802)
June 199431%41%19%9%0%(801)
September 198826%46%18%9%1%(500)
October 198430%41%21%7%1%(999)
June 198023%44%24%9%0%(1005)
May 197725%41%24%10%0%(1005)


3. How would you rate the quality of the environment in the area where you live – excellent, good, only fair, or poor?



Don’t know


October 201125%47%19%9%0%(817)
August 201131%48%16%5%0%(802)
May 201133%46%15%6%0%(807)
December 201014%52%25%9%0%(2864)
April 200127%43%22%7%1%(402)
September 198810%43%31%15%1%(500)

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



Don’t know


October 201121%39%20%13%7%(817)
August 201119%44%26%6%5%(802)
May 201124%39%22%10%6%(807)
December 201024%40%23%8%5%(2864)
August 200424%37%17%12%9%(800)
April 200121%43%21%6%9%(802)
September 199918%44%21%9%8%(802)
September 199820%42%23%9%7%(804)
February 199620%40%20%11%9%(804)
September 199316%36%29%14%5%(801)
January 199215%38%26%15%5%(800)
October 198714%46%23%6%11%(500)
October 198615%40%26%10%9%(800)
October 198316%43%23%10%8%(802)
May 197812%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?



Not at
all safe
Don’t know


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 on October 5 to 9, 2011 with a statewide random sample of 817 adult residents, including 714 contacted on a landline telephone and 103 on a cell phone.  Sampling and interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc.  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 3.4 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.


34% Dem49% Male28% 18-34

64% White

20% Rep51% Female39% 35-54

12% Black

46% Ind 32% 55+

16% 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.