Rutgers University

Press Releases

Rutgers Eagleton Poll: Life in the Garden State Not So Great

0243dba2873e11123fd4_EIPbldg.jpg
0243dba2873e11123fd4_EIPbldg.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  New Jerseyans are in a malaise these days when it comes to the Garden State: they are angry about the state’s economic climate, and even though they still rate the state positively as a place to live, they are mostly pessimistic about the direction the state is headed.

While the vast majority love the neighborhood they are living in, a sizeable number of residents – more than in the past – say they would like to move somewhere else. These are some of the main findings from a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll late last year, as detailed in the newly released “2018 State of the Garden State” report.

Nothing upsets New Jerseyans more than the way their state government has handled taxes: 82 percent of residents say they are dissatisfied – 60 percent, alone, are “very” dissatisfied – with how the government has managed the issue. Three quarters say the same about cost of living and government spending.

Sign Up for E-News

“In a state that ranks near the top when it comes to outbound migration and taxation, it’s no surprise that New Jerseyans are upset with how state government is handling important financial matters – most of all, taxes,” said Dr. Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “It will be a challenge for Governor Murphy to balance fulfilling those of his campaign promises that require new resources with citizens’ current dissatisfaction with taxes and the high cost of living in the state.”

Yet despite grave financial concerns, New Jerseyans clearly like living here. A majority of residents continue to rate the state as an “excellent” or “good” place to live – though these ratings are down from where they once were prior to 2004.

However, in homage to the long-standing tradition of home rule in the state, the closer one looks, the better home looks. Residents rate the neighborhoods they live in better than their towns or cities, and they rate their municipalities ahead of the state as a whole.

But when asked to compare New Jersey to most other states, residents are once again lukewarm: three in 10 say New Jersey is a “better” place to live, with about the same number each saying it is “worse” or the “same” as other states.

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,203 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Nov. 15-27, 2017. The sample has a margin of error of +/-3.0 percentage points. Some questions reported in this release were asked of a sub-sample, resulting in approximately 600 respondents and a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish. The full report is available online

Life in the Garden State not so great?

Residents’ itch to move out of New Jersey has grown in the past decade – from 22 percent in March 2010 to now 30 percent. Forty-six percent want to stay exactly where they are and continue living in their current neighborhood, a double-digit drop from when the question was last asked almost eight years ago.

Six percent now say they want to move somewhere else in their current town, and 15 percent want to move elsewhere within the Garden State. Millennials are one of the biggest flight risks for New Jersey, with more than a third wanting to move out of the state entirely.

Yet despite an increase in those who want to leave the state, residents continue a longtime pattern of being more positive than negative about New Jersey as a place to live – 61 percent (“excellent”/”good”) to 39 percent (“only fair”/”poor”).

Yet this is a notable drop-off from how residents rated quality of life at the turn of the century and for decades before that, with ratings frequently surpassing the 70-percent mark for most of the poll’s history.

Residents are much more positive when it comes to their towns and especially their neighborhoods, however: 70 percent say the former is an “excellent” (26 percent) or “good” (44 percent) place to live, while 79 percent (38 percent “excellent,” 41 percent “good”) say the same about the latter. These patterns have remained steady throughout the past several decades.

But even though a majority of New Jerseyans like where they live, they don’t necessarily think the Garden State is the best around. Twenty-nine percent say New Jersey is a better place to live than any other state, 28 percent say it is worse, and 31 percent think it is the same as everywhere else.

Residents have been increasingly more likely to say New Jersey is worse than other states in the last decade and a half, with the number who say so today almost triple what it was back in 2001.

Widespread dissatisfaction with state on finances; residents most positive on environment, education

Dissatisfaction pervades other financial areas of government beyond taxes: three quarters are “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied with how the state has handled cost of living and affordability, as well as government spending and the state budget. Almost two thirds are dissatisfied with what the state government has done for New Jersey’s cities and urban areas.

Satisfaction with how the government is handling taxes does not pass 30 percent for any demographic, with most groups rating their satisfaction as somewhere in the teens or single digits.

Not a single demographic reaches the 50-percent mark on satisfaction with New Jersey’s cities and urban areas, cost of living and affordability, and government spending and the state budget.

In contrast, residents are most satisfied with how the government is dealing with air and water quality in the state, as well both higher education and K-12 public education: about six in 10 are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with each of these items.

Over half of residents are also at least “somewhat” satisfied about the job the state government is doing with public safety and crime, as well as business and employment opportunities.

Residents are more split, however, when it comes to transportation and infrastructure. They are also mixed when it comes to how the government is managing issues like senior citizen services, Superstorm Sandy recovery, programs for the poor, and mental health and addiction.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - February 23, 2018




The Jaffe Briefing Is going on Winter Break, returning Monday, March 5


OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

 NEWARK - The Archdiocese of Newark is somehow making national news, after Cardinal Joseph Tobin sent out a tweet Wednesday that raised one or two eyebrows. Tobin tweeted "Nighty-night, baby. I love you," Hmm, people asked. Now who ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 22, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - If New Jersey raises the sales tax back to 7 percent, will anyone notice? That's the big question from New Jersey Policy Perspective, which questions last year's gimmick that cut the sales tax rate to 6.625 percent. NJ 101.5reports that tax cut equates to $2 a week in "savings" for middle-class families. Meanwhile, this ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 21, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE HIGHWAY - Authorities were frantically looking into a "mystery tar" that appeared suddenly on cars driving along I-295 in South Jersey, causing tires to gel with the road. They quickly realized that a stretch of the highway in Salem County was smeared with liquid asphalt, leaked from a tanker and causing dozens of cars to get ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 20, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - Jittery parents are sending their jittery kids to jittery schools this morning, as classes resume after a President's Day weekend filled with wall-to-wall news coverage about gun safety. School districts statewide have been reporting threats - all thankfully not credible - as district leaders are on the highest alert. East Brunswick, for ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 16, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

E STREET - While a tired nation is demanding gun control (yet again), Springsteen guitarist Stevie Van Zandt is having none of it. No stranger to political opinions, the New Jersey icon tweeted "What happened to us? We are averaging 2 school shootings per week AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!" Many tone-deaf politicians on Capitol Hill ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 15, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - As state lawmakers are set to announce a bill at 11 a.m. to decriminalize pot - an issue that has consumed the Statehouse -  the Record is reporting on an often-ignored issue: the state's ridiculously antiquated liquor laws. For example, supermarkets in the state can only have up to two liquor licenses, stemming ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f91ed86077ea29dfd56e_image

Sat, February 24

Plainsboro

Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden

Carousel_image_f4e82d3711fc465ac05c_1234663_10152274039849715_16207768_n

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

New Jersey Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve, Plainsboro

Family Adventures - Early Spring: Emerging ...

Green

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

Edison High School Auditorium, Edison

Free community viewing of "Bag It"

Green

Trees Have Sex? Rutgers Researchers Have All the Answers

February 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A few years ago, Rutgers researcher Jennifer Blake-Mahmud was working on a botany project in Virginia when colleagues pointed out a striped maple, a common tree in the understory of mountain forests from Nova Scotia to Georgia. 

 

“They told me, ‘We think it switches sex from year to year, but we don’t know why,’ and I said, ...

Rutgers Union Rally Planned Friday for $15 Minimum Wage

New Brunswick, NJ - On Friday, February 23, student groups, a coalition of Rutgers unions, and representatives from campuses across the nation will hold a rally and march on College Avenue to demand a $15 minimum wage.

The action, initiated by the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and the Rutgers American Association of University Professors - American Federation of ...

RU Students Rejoice: Starbucks Reopens at The Yard@College Avenue

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - In what many consider to be the biggest news of the day on the Rutgers University campus, the Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue has once again reopened.

Officials with the New Brunswick Development Corp. reported this morning that the popular coffeehouse is open "for good."

The Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue, located at the corner of College ...

Valeski: Placing Police Officers in Schools was Planned for Two Years

February 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - In the midst of a media firestorm Tuesday, Dr. Victor Valeski, East Brunswick Superintendent of Schools, fielded questions from local and national journalists regarding the placement of armed police officers inside each of the district's K-12 buildings.  The move seemed to many as a "knee-jerk" reaction to the fear generated by the massacre of ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

OPINION

Letter to the Editor: Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 15, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

Somerset Patriots Sign Frontier League All-Star RHP Randy McCurry

February 17, 2018

The Somerset Patriots have announced the signing of right-handed relief pitcher Randy McCurry for the 2018 season.

“I’m excited to play in the Atlantic League this year,” said McCurry. “It’ll be a transition for me but I am ready to face some really good competition and help the team win.”

McCurry enters his first season with the Somerset Patriots and ...