In its regular tracking of residents’ satisfaction with life in New Jersey, the Monmouth University Poll finds that positive opinion of the state as a place to live stands at a 35-year low of 55%. This has caused the overall Garden State Quality of Life Index to drop to +18. The decline could have been greater if the index was not buoyed by stable ratings from residents for their local communities.
Currently, just over half of New Jerseyans say the state is either an excellent (12%) or good (43%) place to call home, while 30% rate it as only fair and 15% as poor. This 55% positive rating is down from 63% just a few months ago. It also marks an all-time low since this question has been asked in New Jersey opinion polls going back to 1980. The prior bottom point was 57% in August 2011.
Monmouth’s Garden State Quality of Life Index score now stands at +18, down from +23 in February. Half of the index score comes from residents’ overall rating of the state as a place to live. The score would have declined more if not for the fact that local community evaluations comprising the other half of the index remained stable. Specifically, positive evaluations of one’s hometown as a place to live held steady at 71% compared to 72% in February. Positive evaluations of local public schools stand at 60%, which is basically the same as the 61% positive rating recorded earlier this year. Evaluations of local environmental quality have remained steady at 71% positive, compared to 72% in February. Perceptions of personal safety have actually increased. Currently, 67% of Garden State residents say they feel very safe in their own neighborhood at night, which is up from 62% who said the same in February.
“New Jerseyans still like their towns and their neighbors. They’re just having a hard time with the state as a whole,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The Garden State Quality of Life Index score dropped less among adults age 18 to 34 (+25 from +26) than it did among those age 35 to 54 (+11 from +18) and age 55 and older (+20 from +28). It also declined more in urban areas (-2 from +11) than it did in stable towns (+28 from +30) and growing suburbs (+23 from +27). Regionally, the Garden State Quality of Life Index dropped by 9 or 10 points in North Jersey, the Jersey Shore, and rural counties in the state. It only dropped by 2 or 3 points in Central Jersey. The index actually went up by 6 points in the Delaware Valley counties.