STATE — In its regular tracking of residents’ satisfaction with life in New Jersey, the Monmouth University Poll found that the current Garden State Quality of Life Index has dipped to +27, from +31 in April. While this marks a decrease from the last result, it is still higher than all prior readings going back to December 2011.
“After months of upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index, we have seen a slight drop that seems to be caused mainly by economic and security concerns,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Nearly 7-in-10 residents continue to rate the state of New Jersey as either an excellent (17%) or good (52%) place to live, but the excellent rating is down 3 points from April. The other notable drop occurred in feelings of safety, with 60% of residents saying they feel very safe in their neighborhoods at night, down from 64% in April. Positive results for other components in the Garden State Quality of Life Index – including ratings of residents’ own towns (74%), local environment (74%), and schools (61%) – are all down by one or two points.
The overall drop in the Garden State Quality of Life Index seems to be concentrated among lower income households in more urban and rural parts of the state. Among those earning less than $50,000, the index stands at +16, down 8 points from April. There has also been a 14 point drop among residents of the Urban Core counties of Essex and Hudson (now +12) and a 10 point drop among the Garden Core counties which include the far southern and northwestern parts of the state (now +18).
Furthermore, the index has seen a decrease among New Jersey men – from +33 three months ago to +26 now – while the score among state women has been more stable – from +28 to +29 now. The index score among older residents also declined. New Jerseyans age 55 and over now score +30 on the index – down from +37 in April.
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.