By Monmouth University Polling Institute
Rating of New Jersey as place to live highest in nine years
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 at +30. That marks a reversal of the decline experienced over the prior two quarters and nearly matches the prior high of +31 recorded in April 2012. The current index score is an improvement over results from both September (+24) and July (+27).
A major factor in the index score is residents’ overall rating of the state as a place to live. Currently, more than 7-in-10 residents say New Jersey is either an excellent (20 percent) or good (52 percent) place to call home, compared to 1-in-4 who rate it as only fair (21 percent) or poor (5 percent). This 72 percent positive rating marks a 7 percentage point increase from September and is the highest rating on this metric since May 2003 when it also stood at 72 percent.
Positive ratings of one’s town as a place to live stand at 74 percent; of the local environment stand at 73 percent; of neighborhood safety stand at 64 percent; and of local schools stand at 61 percent. These local ratings are no more than one or two percentage points different than the September poll results.
“The jump in positive statewide satisfaction happened not in spite of Sandy, but more likely because of the storm,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Poll results we released earlier this month show that New Jerseyans came out of the storm with more positive views of both the state’s institutions and their own neighbors. We now see this reflected in a more positive perception of the Garden State’s overall quality of life.”
While the Garden State Quality of Life Index score has increased for nearly every demographic group, there are some noteworthy regional differences. The index score among residents of the Northern Shore counties of Monmouth and Ocean – the hardest hit areas of the state – now stands at +40. This marks an increase of 7 points since September. On the other hand, the Delaware Valley – Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester – which largely escaped Sandy’s wrath is the only region that registered a decline in the Garden State Quality of Life Index score – from +26 in September to +21 currently.
Other regional scores are +47 in the Central Hills (up 2 points), +36 in the Northeast (up 7 points), +31 in the Garden Core (up 18 points), +26 in the Route 1 Corridor (up 9 points), and +18 in the Urban Core (up 4 points).
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 the Monmouth University Polling Institute Nov. 29 through Dec. 2, with a statewide random sample of 816 adult residents, including 616 contacted on a landline telephone and 200 on a cellphone.
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.
The polling institute is located at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.