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 +24, which is the second straight drop off the prior high of +31 recorded in April 2012. This marks a return to its level of a year ago, but is still higher than the initial +21 reading in December 2010.
“This past spring was marked by a heightened expectation that New Jersey was about to turn the corner. With the continued sluggishness of the state’s economic recovery continuing to stall and the evaporation of a promised tax credit, public optimism has faded,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Just under 2-in-3 residents rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (15%) or good (50%) place to live. This 65% positive rating is down from 69% in July and 70% in April.
Positive ratings of one’s town as a place to live stand at 72% (down from 76% in April); positive ratings of the local environment are provided by 72% of state residents (down from 75% in April); and ratings of the local schools stand at 61% positive (down from 63% in April). The one bright spot in the Garden State Quality of Life Index is views on crime. Currently, 65% of residents feel very safe in their neighborhoods at night, up from 60% in July and similar to the 64% positive rating in April.
In the prior poll, the overall drop in the Garden State Quality of Life Index was concentrated on the lower income end – declining from +24 in April to +16 in July. That trend continues in the current poll with a further decrease to +10 among households earning less than $50,000. A new trend in the current poll is that the index rating among middle income residents has also dropped, after holding steady in the prior poll. Among those earning between $50,000 and $100,000, the index now stands at +23, down from +31 in July and +28 in April. However, the index score among upper income New Jerseyans has held steady, though, at +37 among those earning more than $100,000 – which equals the July mark and is down slightly from +42 in April.
The Garden State Quality of Life Index has also dropped among urban residents, from +20 in April to +8 in July and to -1 in the current poll. This negative rating for urban residents matches the October 2011 low point for this group of New Jerseyans.
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.