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NJ’s Quality Of Life Drops Big Time [AUDIO]

That camaraderie New Jerseyans felt just after Superstorm Sandy hammered the state seems to be evaporating a bit.

Mark Wilson, Getty Images

The latest Monmouth University ‘Quality Of Life Index‘ shows Garden State residents are less happy with life in the state and in their hometown and there’s a drop-off in their views about their local schools.

How The Index Works

The 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.

It’s 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 current Garden State Quality of Life Index sands at +21. This is down significantly from other post-Superstorm Sandy readings, including +29 in February and +30 in December. In fact, the current score matches the prior low from December 2010, when Monmouth first introduced the index.

The Five Categories

Today, than 6-in-10 say New Jersey is either an excellent (15 percent) or good (46 percent) place to call home, compared to nearly 4-in-10 who rate it as only fair (27 percent) or poor (11 percent). This 61% positive rating is down by 7 points from the February poll and by 11 points from a decade-high 72-percent recorded in December just after Superstorm Sandy hit the state.

The drop in the overall state ratings is accompanied by a decline in local evaluations. Specifically, 67 percent of New Jerseyans currently rate their town or city positively, down from 73 percent in February.

This is the lowest result for hometown evaluations in more than 30 years. The last time less than 7-in-10 viewed their hometown positively was in 1980, when the number was also 67 percent.

There is also a downturn in Garden Staters’ opinions of their local school schools. Currently, 59 percent give their local schools a thumbs up, down 5 points since February. On the other hand, ratings of local environmental quality stayed stable at 70 percent positive and views of neighborhood safety actually went up by 3 points to 66 percent positive.

“The feelings of goodwill that permeated the state after Sandy have disappeared, even wiping out positive gains made prior to the storm,” says Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “New Jerseyans are once again looking at the state’s quality of life with a more critical eye.”

Sandy-Hit Areas Show Sharpest Declines

The Index score dropped for nearly every demographic group when compared to February’s results, with the exception of those earning over $100,000 a year for whom it remained fairly steady at +35.

Regionally, the index score registered double digit drops in Urban Core counties (+4), the Route 1 Corridor (+19), and the Northern Shore (+22). The index stayed relatively more stable in areas not as affected by Sandy, including the Central Hills (+38), the Northeast (+31), the Garden Core counties (+21), and the Delaware Valley (+21).

In fact, the Delaware Valley region, which suffered the least impact from Sandy, registered the most stable Quality of Life ratings for the period six months before Sandy hit to six months after, ranging narrowly from +21 to +26 during that time.

The survey was conducted by telephone with 806 New Jersey adults from April 11 to April 14, 2013. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.5 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, New Jersey.

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