The latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Tuesday is a mixed bag when it comes to residents’ feelings about living in New Jersey.

The majority said it’s a good or excellent place to live, but a fair percentage also said it’s gotten worse or not changed at all in the last 5 to 10 years. At the same time, many thought New Jersey would become a better place to live over the next decade.

Not surprisingly, taxes remained the top concern.

“Almost 6 in 10 New Jersey residents say that the state is a good or excellent place to live,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University. “New Jerseyans overwhelming say that the state is a great place to live to raise a family (58 percent). It’s a great for entertainment and recreation (70 percent) and certainly for education (70 percent).”

The negative numbers included:

  • 63 percent said job prospects were fair or poor
  • 55 percent said New Jersey was a fair or poor place to run a business
  • 79 percent rate the state as a fair or poor place when it comes to retirement

“We see that in the last 5 to 10 years New Jerseyans are a little bit pessimistic, a little bit more negative. We see 41 percent say that it’s become a worse place and 37 percent say it has not changed at all. Only 17 percent say that in the last 5 to 10 years it’s actually gotten better, but on the flip side we see that New Jerseyans are positive about the future,” Koning said.

Of those polled, 32 percent thought New Jersey would become a better place to live in the next 5 to 10 years. Twenty percent said life would become worse in the Garden State, and 38 percent predicted nothing would change.

“Unfortunately New Jerseyans can’t seem to pull themselves out of this really negative right track/wrong track rating. Six in 10 say that the state is off on the wrong track,” Koning noted. “Only a third (33 percent) say New Jersey is headed in the right direction.”

If you live in New Jersey and you think your tax bills are too high, you have a lot of company, according to the survey. Almost a quarter of those polled said taxes were their No. 1 concern.

“At 23 percent all other problems in the state kind of pale in comparison to taxes and they’ve always been the bane of New Jerseyans’ existence and this is no surprise, 80 percent of residents say they pay too much in state and local taxes for what we get in return and just 14 percent say they feel they get their money’s worth,” Koning explained.

Just over two-thirds (67 percent) felt they get less for their tax dollars compared to taxpayers in other states. Only five percent thought they got more bang for their buck.

The statewide poll of 843 adults was conducted by phone from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6, 2015. The margin of error is +/-3.8 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.


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