BY TOM HESTER SR.
Two in three New Jerseyans rate the state as either an excellent (15 percent) or good (47 percent) place to live, a figure that is down slightly from an October survey, according to a Monmouth University Poll made public Tuesday.
However, ratings of residents’ own towns stand at 33 percent excellent and 41 percent good. The 33 percent excellent number matches the prior three-decade high for this measure.
Ratings of local schools have ticked up as well, to 26 percent excellent and 42 percent good. The 68 percent positive rating marks an all-time high on this question in polls going back to 1978.
Positive views of other local concerns stayed stable, including ratings of the local environment (77 percent) and crime (62 percent).
“We have seen some upward movement in the Garden State Quality of Life Index over the past few months, led by increasingly positive views of towns and schools,” Patrick Murray, the poll’s director, said.
Examining the Garden State Quality of Life Index across various demographic groups, pollsters found women are much more positive than men. There has also been an increase in the state’s urban communities, where the index now stands at +11, up from -1 in October. On the other hand, there has been a notable drop in the generally positive Central Hills area of New Jersey (Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties), with the score being +35, down from +45.
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 latest poll was conducted by telephone with 803 New Jersey adults from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4. The sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.