NJ quality of life rating lowest in 39 years, according to poll

Leah Mishkin, Correspondent | February 27, 2019 | People

A new poll asked people how they would rate New Jersey as a place to live. The answer? Fifty percent say it’s excellent or good. That’s down 4 percent compared to last year. It’s also the lowest rating in the 39 years that pollsters have asked the question.

“It was once as high as 84 percent back in the 1980s. Through most of the past decade it was in the mid-60s, but it has been definitely on the decline over the past few years,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Murray says New Jerseyans feel the state is not doing enough to address key issues. Taxes top the list of concerns.

But the poll shows that Garden State residents rate their own towns and cities higher than they rank the state, with 67 percent saying they’re excellent or good.

In Newark, lifelong residents gave mixed reactions.

“It’s a wonderful city. Newark has seen a lot of growth,” said resident Joshua Kelly.

“You have kids out here representing whatever they’re representing. They have weapons, little kids,” said one Newark resident named Omar.

“Urban areas have always had a lower quality of life index in terms of the reaction both to the state and to their local neighborhoods than folks who live in affluent suburbs. I mean this is consistent over time and you can see that in our poll report,” Murray said.

But when you break down the poll by age bracket, Murray says lower-income older residents are happy with the direction the state is taking but younger residents are not.

“To keep those older residents happy and be able to afford to live here, they require that tax base that’s generated by those younger wealth generators and those are the folks that can get up and leave at any time,” Murray said.

When you look at the poll in terms of counties, Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester dropped the most on the quality of life index score — down 17 points from last year. Monmouth and Ocean are the only region where the score went up by 3 points from last year.