Garden State Quality of Life Jumps

By Patrick Murray

7-in-10 residents say New Jersey is good place to live

In its regular 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 jumped to +31, from +25 in February. This marks the third consecutive increase in the index and the highest score since the index debuted in December 2010 at +21.

Upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index seems to have accelerated in the past few months, with the biggest factor being more positive views of New Jersey as a whole.

Currently, 7-in-10 residents rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (20 percent) or good (50 percent) place to live. This 70 percent positive rating is the highest recorded since May 2003 when it stood at 72 percent, and a marked improvement over the 30-year low of 57 percent recorded less than one year ago in August 2011.

The state evaluation contributes half of the total Garden State Quality of Life Index score. The other half is comprised of ratings of various local aspects of New Jersey life. These ratings have remained fairly steady, including positive ratings of one’s town as a place to live (76 percent), the local environment (75 percent), local schools (63 percent) and neighborhood safety (64 percent).

Compared to February, the Garden State Quality of Life Index has seen significant increases among New Jersey men – from +20 two months ago to +33 now. The score among state women was more stable – from +30 to +28 now.

The index score among older residents also jumped. New Jerseyans age 55 and older now score +37 on the index – up from +26 in February – and give higher ratings than those age 35 to 54 (+30) or 18 to 34 (+25). The Garden State Quality of Life Index score among urban residents nearly doubled from +11 in February to +20 now, but still trails the score of suburban residents (+36).

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.

Patrick Murray is the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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