New Jerseyans’ outlook on the quality of life in their own state has plummeted to an all-time low, a new Monmouth University Poll reveals.
According to the findings, just half of residents give positive marks to the Garden State as a place to live. However, in stark contrast, the poll also reveals that residents’ opinions of their own local communities remain positive and have not drastically changed over the past year.
Just half of New Jersey residents say the state is either an excellent (11 percent) or good (39 percent) place to call home. Meanwhile, the poll determined that 32 percent say it is only fair and 17 percent rate the state as poor.
The current positive rating of 50 percent has dropped four points since last year’s Monmouth poll, marking a record low for this metric in New Jersey opinion polls dating back to 1980.
Over the past decade, this specific rating has generally been in the mid-60s. However, before that, positive rating of the state was frequently in the 70s, even reaching as high as 84 percent in 1987, according to the poll.
“The state rating has bounced around the last few years, but this latest result marks a precipitous drop from any prior reading. This is a huge warning sign for the state’s political leadership. If New Jerseyans aren’t confident that the situation will turn around, they will start voting with their feet,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
The quality of life index score took its biggest hit in Philadelphia suburbs — dropping 17 points from a +14 score last year to –3 in the Delaware Valley, which encompasses Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.
The poll also found “a significant” nine-point drop in the state’s Urban Core, comprised of Essex and Hudson counties, going from +8 last year to –1 in the current poll. While the affluent Central Hills area of Hunterdon, Morris and Somerset counties retains the highest index score at +27, which is down seven points compared to last year’s score.
Additionally, the poll found that the Northern Shore of Monmouth and Ocean counties is the only region where the index score has ticked up over the past year, from +18 to +21.
Meanwhile, two-in-three New Jerseyans rate their own town or city as an excellent (30 percent) or good (37 percent) place to live, the poll determined, with 21 percent saying it is only fair and 11 percent rating it as poor.
However, the current 67 percent positive rating for local communities is down from 71 percent last year and is at the lower end of the range for this question since 2000, according to the findings.
“New Jerseyans seem to separate their views of the state as a whole from how they feel about their own neighborhoods. The question is how much longer this can go on before statewide problems override the benefits of living in their local community,” Murray said.
The recent poll also found a demographic shift in the key state rating since last year.
Positive reviews of New Jersey as a place to live have held steady among men, with 47 percent, while they have dropped by nine points among women, reaching 51 percent, the poll reveals.
“Older low-income residents seem to be okay with the direction New Jersey is going. It’s the younger wealth generators who are increasingly unhappy with it. Policymakers have to ask themselves how the state will be able to serve the first group if the latter group flees the state,” Murray said.
For the complete poll and the methodology used, click here.