BY TOM HESTER SR.
There is a growing disparity between urban and suburban New Jersey residents when it comes to how they view the quality of life in their hometowns, according to a Monmouth University’s Garden State Quality of Life Index made public Thursday.
Last year, the Quality of Life Index score from residents of urban areas stood at +12 compared to +23 in stable towns and +27 in growing suburbs. The urban score is now -1, which is a 13 point decline compared to +31 in stable towns and +34 in growing suburbs.
The index score among black and Hispanic residents (+7) is now half of where it stood last year (+13). It has increased slightly among white residents (+31 up from +26).
The growing negative view by blacks and Hispanic residents differs from upbeat outlook of whites.
In its quarterly tracking of New Jerseyans’ satisfaction with life in their state, Monmouth pollsters find that its Quality of Life Index has ticked up to +24, 3 points higher then December and 1 point higher then in May. The index stood at 22 in August.
Currently, 2-in-3 residents rate New Jersey as either an excellent (15 percent) or good (52 percent) place to live. This 67 percent positive rating is up from 57 percent in August and 63 percent nearly a year ago. It marks the highest positive reading on this question since 68 percent of New Jerseyans said the same in a 2004 poll.
“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 the state as a whole,” Prof. Patrick Murray, the poll’s director, said.
Positive views of residents’ local areas stayed stable, including ratings of one’s hometown (73 percent), environment (72 percent), crime (62 percent), and schools (60 percent).
The Quality of Life Index score did experience a significant uptick among older residents. It now stands at +29 among state residents age 55 and older, compared to +21 for those 35 to 54 and +23 for those 18 to 34.
The Quality of Life Index was created to serve as a resident-based indicator of the quality of life in 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 poll was conducted by telephone with 817 New Jersey adults from Oct. 5 to 9. This sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.