Poll: New Jerseyans are generally happy, but income, race & education matter

Jessica Perry//June 6, 2019

Poll: New Jerseyans are generally happy, but income, race & education matter

Jessica Perry//June 6, 2019

New Jersey residents get a bad rap, but a new survey finds that people in the state are actually, generally happy.

In a joint survey released Thursday from Rutgers University Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and Fairleigh Dickinson University, eight in 10 respondents described things in their life as happy.

Just how happy a person was, or wasn’t, ran the gamut generally from 21 percent at “very happy” to 3 percent who were “not happy at all.” “Pretty happy” encompassed the most answers at 60 percent.


Income, race and education were cited in the survey results as contributing factors to the general mood in the Garden State.

It’s said you can’t buy happiness, but the survey results might lead you to believe otherwise. Households that made under $50,000 annually were about half as likely as those making $150,000 or more to say they were “very” happy. In the lowest income bracket, 26 percent of respondents said they were “not too happy” and 4 percent reported not being happy at all.

“Happiness means different things to different people,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of government at Fairleigh Dickinson University and director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll. “But when the cost of living keeps going up, it’s not a surprise to see happiness appear elusive to those who are likely struggling the most to afford the basics.”

White respondents were reported as happiest in the poll, with 23 percent “very happy” and 64 percent “pretty happy.” Black residents reported slightly less happy results, with 17 percent answering “very” and 62 percent “pretty.” Twenty-one percent of Hispanic residents responded they were “very” happy and 50 percent were “pretty” happy.

Among college educated degree holders, 84 percent were found to be “very” or “pretty” happy, compared to 79 percent without a degree.

Married people were more likely to answer they were “very happy,” at 26 percent, as opposed to those unattached who reported a 16 percent response rate.

According to the pollsters, which cited Pew Center Research data, the state’s general happiness results are consistent with national polling on personal happiness.

Between March 7 and March 22, 2019, 1,203 New Jersey residents were contacted to participate in the survey; there is a /-3.7 percentage point margin of error for the combined sample of people reached by live callers or through an online probability-based panel.