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Quality of Life Index Rallies

Monday, Nov. 18, 2019

6-in-10 give thumbs up to living in the state

West Long Branch, NJ – New Jerseyans’ opinion of the quality of life in their home state has rebounded from the all-time low recorded earlier this year. Currently, 6-in-10 give positive marks to the Garden State as a place to live. The Monmouth University Poll also finds that residents’ views of their local communities remain positive and have not changed much over the past year.

Six-in-10 New Jersey residents say the state is either an excellent (15%) or good (46%) place to call home, while 26% say it is only fair and 12% rate the state as poor. The current positive rating of 61% is a marked improvement from the 50% record low recorded earlier this year as well as the 54% result in April 2018.  The current findings are more in line with results from 2017 (59%) and 2016 (62%). Over the past decade, the state rating has generally been in the low- to mid-60s with a few exceptions.  Prior to that, positive rating of the state was frequently in the 70s, even reaching as high as 84% in 1987.

“It wasn’t looking good earlier this year as public sentiment about life in the Garden State hit a four-decade low. But those numbers have certainly bounced back, at least for now,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Monmouth’s exclusive Garden State Quality of Life Index score now stands at +24, which is up from +13 in February.  For six years prior to that, the index tended to seesaw between +18 and +26.  The high mark for this index since Monmouth launched it nine years ago was +31 in April 2012.

The quality of life index score rebounded the most in the Delaware Valley (Burlington, Camden, Gloucester), rising by 29 points from a –3 score in February to a +26 score now. Most other regions of the state also saw increases, although not by as much. These include the affluent Central Hills (Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset) at +42 up from +27; the Northern Shore (Monmouth, Ocean) at +32 up from +21; the Route 1 Corridor (Mercer, Middlesex, Union) at +23 up from +16; the state’s Garden Core counties (the northwestern and southernmost parts of the state) at +17 up from +9; and the Urban Core (Essex, Hudson) at +10 up from –1. The Garden State Quality of Life Index continues to be the most stable in the Northeast region (Bergen, Passaic), now at +20 compared with +21 in February.

The Garden State Quality of Life Index was created by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in 2010 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.

More than 7-in-10 New Jerseyans rate their own town or city as an excellent (32%) or good (40%) place to live, with 20% saying it is only fair and 7% rating it as poor. The current 72% positive home town rating is up from 67% earlier this year and more in line with the 71% result in 2018.

The percentage of Garden State residents who currently feel very safe in their own neighborhoods at night (68%) is similar to polls from earlier this year (64%) and last year (65%). Another 27% say they feel somewhat safe and 5% do not feel safe at all.

Ratings for the job local schools are doing stands at 60% positive – 26% excellent and 34% good – which is similar to recent results (59% in February and 60% in 2018).  Another 23% rate their schools as only fair and 9% say they are poor.

The current poll registers relatively high ratings for local environmental quality at 72% positive – 31% excellent and 41% good – which is similar to both February of this year (71%) and April 2018 (73%).  Another 22% rate the local environment as only fair and 6% say it is poor.

“Ratings of local safety, schools, and the environment have remained relatively stable. The increase in the overall quality of life index has come mainly from a more positive outlook about New Jersey as a whole,” said Murray.

There have been a number of demographic shifts in the key state rating question since earlier this year.  Positive reviews of New Jersey as a place to live have increased among both men (57%, up from 47%) and women (66%, up from 51%).  By age, the state rating has improved the most among those 18 to 34 years old (67%, up from 47%), while it has also ticked up among those 35 to 54 years old (56%, up from 47%) and those aged 55 and older (63%, up from 54%). The state rating has increased among both white residents (63%, up from 49%) and New Jerseyans of color (62%, up from 52%).  The state rating has also improved among those earning over $100,000 a year (64%, up from 49%), as well as those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 (57%, up from 48%) and those earning less than $50,000 (64%, up from 57%).


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 2019 +24 +21 +26 +21 +20 +32 +31 +13 +18 +20 +33
February 2019 +13 +14 +12 +10 +11 +18 +17 +4 +2 +14 +20
April 2018 +18 +16 +20 +22 +14 +20 +22 +5 +8 +16 +27
July 2017 +25 +25 +24 +15 +26 +30 +32 +6 +8 +23 +41
July 2015 +18 +18 +18 +25 +11 +20 +24 +5 n/a n/a n/a
February 2015 +23 +21 +26 +26 +18 +28 +29 +10 +13 +30 +31
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 2019 +20 +10 +23 +42 +32 +26 +17 +6 +30 +30
February 2019 +21 -1 +16 +27 +21 -3 +9 -1 +15 +19
April 2018 +24 +8 +18 +34 +18 +14 +11 +2 +23 +24
July 2017 +25 +18 +34 +33 +35 +22 +13 +7 +31 +29
July 2015 +21 +4 +22 +35 +22 +17 +10 -2 +28 +23
February 2015 +31 +13 +24 +38 +31 +11 +19 +11 +30 +27
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 Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 12 to 16, 2019 with 713 New Jersey adults.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns 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)
September 2019 61% 15% 46% 26% 12% 1% (713)
February 2019 50% 11% 39% 32% 17% 1% (604)
April 2018 54% 15% 39% 29% 17% 1% (703)
July 2017 59% 15% 44% 28% 13% 0% (800)
May 2016 62% 16% 46% 28% 10% 0% (806)
July 2015 55% 12% 43% 30% 15% 0% (503)
May 2015 63% 13% 50% 27% 10% 1% (500)
February 2015 63% 15% 48% 25% 11% 1% (805)
September  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)
February 2014 63% 15% 48% 26% 11% 0% (803)
December 2013 65% 20% 45% 26% 9% 0% (802)
September 2013 65% 19% 46% 25% 10% 1% (783)
April 2013 61% 15% 46% 27% 11% 0% (806)
February 2013 68% 18% 50% 24% 7% 1% (803)
December 2012 72% 20% 52% 21% 5% 1% (816)
September 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)
February 2012 62% 15% 47% 26% 11% 1% (803)
October 2011 67% 15% 52% 24% 8% 0% (817)
August 2011 57% 14% 43% 31% 11% 1% (802)
May 2011 59% 14% 45% 29% 11% 0% (807)
December 2010 63% 17% 46% 26% 10% 1% (2864)
October 2007 63% 17% 46% 25% 12% 1% (1001)
August 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)
February 1994 71% 18% 53% 22% 7% 0% (801)
March 1990 68% 21% 47% 25% 6% 1% (800)
February 1988 78% 27% 51% 17% 4% 1% (800)
February 1987 84% 31% 53% 11% 4% 0% (800)
May 1985 81% 29% 52% 14% 3% 1% (500)
October 1984 80% 29% 51% 15% 4% 1% (1000)
January 1981 66% 16% 50% 26% 7% 1% (1003)
July 1980 68% 18% 50% 23% 7% 2% (1005)

[Q2-21 previously released.]

22. How would you rate your town or city as a place to liveexcellent, good, only fair, or poor?

TREND*: Excellent/
Good
Excellent Good Only
Fair
Poor (VOL)
Don’t
know
(n)
September 2019 72% 32% 40% 20% 7% 0% (713)
February 2019 67% 30% 37% 21% 11% 0% (604)
April 2018 71% 30% 41% 20% 9% 0% (703)
July 2017 77% 37% 40% 16% 7% 0% (800)
July 2015 71% 29% 42% 19% 10% 0% (503)
February 2015 72% 29% 43% 21% 7% 0% (805)
September 2014 69% 24% 45% 22% 10% 0% (802)
April 2014 71% 27% 44% 20% 9% 0% (803)
February 2014 70% 31% 39% 23% 7% 0% (803)
December 2013 70% 29% 41% 21% 8% 1% (802)
September 2013 72% 32% 40% 18% 9% 1% (783)
April 2013 67% 29% 38% 25% 8% 0% (806)
February 2013 73% 30% 43% 20% 7% 0% (803)
December 2012 74% 32% 42% 17% 9% 0% (816)
September 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)
February 2012 74% 33% 41% 21% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 73% 26% 47% 20% 8% 0% (817)
August 2011 76% 28% 48% 18% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 73% 33% 40% 20% 7% 0% (807)
December 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)
September 1988 72% 26% 46% 18% 9% 1% (500)
October 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 23-25 WERE ROTATED]

23. 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)
September 2019 72% 31% 41% 22% 6% 1% (713)
February 2019 71% 27% 44% 21% 8% 0% (604)
April 2018 73% 29% 44% 20% 6% 1% (703)
July 2017 76% 37% 39% 14% 8% 1% (800)
July 2015 71% 27% 44% 20% 9% 0% (503)
February 2015 72% 27% 45% 23% 4% 0% (805)
September 2014 72% 24% 48% 21% 5% 1% (802)
April 2014 76% 27% 49% 18% 6% 0% (803)
February 2014 73% 29% 44% 21% 6% 0% (803)
December 2013 69% 27% 42% 24% 7% 0% (802)
September 2013 75% 30% 45% 18% 7% 1% (783)
April 2013 70% 27% 43% 22% 7% 0% (806)
February 2013 71% 26% 45% 24% 4% 2% (803)
December 2012 73% 25% 48% 20% 7% 1% (816)
September 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)
February 2012 77% 29% 48% 17% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 72% 25% 47% 19% 9% 0% (817)
August 2011 79% 31% 48% 16% 5% 0% (802)
May 2011 79% 33% 46% 15% 6% 0% (807)
December 2010 66% 14% 52% 25% 9% 0% (2864)
April 2001 70% 27% 43% 22% 7% 1% (402)
September 1988 53% 10% 43% 31% 15% 1% (500)

24. 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)
September 2019 60% 26% 34% 23% 9% 9% (713)
February 2019 59% 19% 40% 22% 10% 9% (604)
April 2018 60% 24% 36% 23% 10% 7% (703)
July 2017 65% 26% 39% 20% 10% 6% (800)
July 2015 60% 27% 33% 22% 9% 8% (503)
February 2015 61% 21% 40% 24% 8% 7% (805)
September 2014 60% 21% 39% 24% 9% 7% (802)
April 2014 63% 24% 39% 22% 9% 6% (803)
February 2014 61% 22% 39% 22% 10% 7% (803)
December 2013 60% 20% 40% 23% 12% 5% (802)
September 2013 62% 24% 38% 21% 7% 9% (783)
April 2013 59% 21% 38% 27% 9% 5% (806)
February 2013 64% 24% 40% 20% 7% 9% (803)
December 2012 61% 21% 40% 23% 7% 9% (816)
September 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)
February 2012 68% 26% 42% 16% 8% 8% (803)
October 2011 60% 21% 39% 20% 13% 7% (817)
August 2011 63% 19% 44% 26% 6% 5% (802)
May 2011 63% 24% 39% 22% 10% 6% (807)
December 2010 64% 24% 40% 23% 8% 5% (2864)
August 2004 61% 24% 37% 17% 12% 9% (800)
April 2001 64% 21% 43% 21% 6% 9% (802)
September 1999 62% 18% 44% 21% 9% 8% (802)
September 1998 62% 20% 42% 23% 9% 7% (804)
February 1996 60% 20% 40% 20% 11% 9% (804)
September 1993 52% 16% 36% 29% 14% 5% (801)
January 1992 53% 15% 38% 26% 15% 5% (800)
October 1987 60% 14% 46% 23% 6% 11% (500)
October 1986 55% 15% 40% 26% 10% 9% (800)
October 1983 59% 16% 43% 23% 10% 8% (802)
May 1978 52% 12% 40% 25% 12% 11% (1003)

25. 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 2019 68% 27% 5% 0% (713)
February 2019 64% 29% 7% 0% (604)
April 2018 65% 29% 5% 0% (703)
July 2017 71% 22% 6% 0% (800)
July 2015 67% 27% 6% 0% (503)
February 2015 62% 33% 4% 0% (805)
September 2014 58% 36% 6% 0% (802)
April 2014 66% 30% 4% 1% (803)
February 2014 67% 28% 6% 0% (803)
December 2013 60% 33% 7% 0% (802)
September 2013 65% 27% 7% 1% (783)
April 2013 66% 28% 6% 0% (806)
February 2013 63% 30% 6% 1% (803)
December 2012 64% 29% 6% 1% (816)
September 2012 65% 25% 6% 0% (805)
July 2012 60% 32% 7% 1% (803)
April 2012 64% 31% 5% 1% (804)
February 2012 62% 32% 5% 0% (803)
October 2011 62% 31% 7% 0% (817)
August 2011 63% 31% 6% 0% (802)
May 2011 68% 27% 5% 0% (807)
December 2010 59% 35% 6% 0% (2864)
February 1993 42% 44% 13% 0% (801)
October 1987 51% 36% 11% 2% (499)
October 1984 53% 36% 9% 2% (500)
May 1981 43% 43% 13% 1% (497)

[Q26-41 previously released.]

* Note:  All trend results prior to 2005 come from Rutgers University’s Eagleton Poll.

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 12 to 16, 2019 with a random sample of 713 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 359 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 354 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). 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.

Region in this report 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).

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Self-Reported
20% Republican
45% Independent
35% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
29% 18-34
36% 35-54
35% 55+
 
59% White
13% Black
17% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
64% No degree
36% 4 year degree
 
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs