Monmouth University Poll: Quality of Life Rebounds for NJ

In its regular tracking of residents’ satisfaction with life in New Jersey, the Monmouth University Poll finds the Garden State Quality of Life Index has bounced back from the four-year low registered last fall.  The index currently stands at +23, which is up from +18 in September and more in line with readings taken a year ago.

Half of the overall index score comes from residents’ overall rating of the state as a place to live.  Currently, more than 6-in-10 New Jerseyans say the state is either an excellent (15 percent) or good (48 percent) place to call home, while 25 percent rate it as only fair and 11 percent as poor.  This 63 percent positive rating is a very slight uptick from the 61 percent positive rating recorded in September.

Local evaluations, which make up the other half of the index score, have also increased by a few points.  Specifically, positive evaluations of one’s hometown as a place to live have increased to 72 percent from 69 percent in September.  Perceptions of personal safety have also increased.  Currently, 62 percent of Garden State residents say they feel very safe in their own neighborhood at night, which is up from 58 percent who said the same in September.

Positive evaluations of local public schools stand at 61 percent, which is basically the same as the 60 percent positive rating recorded in September.  Evaluations of local environmental quality have remained steady at 72 percent positive.

“After taking a precipitous dip in the fall, the Garden State Quality of Life Index is back on par with where it stood for most of the past two years,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.  “The uptick is particularly noteworthy in the center of the state and the more rural counties because these regions drove the lower numbers we saw last September.”

The Garden State Quality of Life Index score increased most significantly among young adults age 18 to 34 – from +12 in September to +26 in the current poll – and among middle income residents earning between $50,000 and $100,000 – from +15 in September to +30 in the current poll.  Regionally, the index score bounced back in the two areas where it had dropped the most last fall.  The index score has increased from +12 to +24 among Route 1 Corridor residents and from +4 to +19 in the Garden Core counties.  The only region of the state that experienced a significant decrease in quality of life perceptions was the Delaware Valley, where residents registered a +11 index score, down from +18 in September and +25 in April of last year.

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 Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone with 805 New Jersey adults from January 30 to February 2, 2015.  The total sample has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch.

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