MORE NEW JERSEY COMPANIES SAY STATE IS A GOOD PLACE TO DO BUSINESS
By Kevin Post/Atlantic City Press
November 26, 2011
Business owners think New Jersey still has a long way to go before it’s a good state in which to do business, but they were much more positive about the Garden State and its governor in the 2012 Business Outlook Survey by the N.J. Business & Industry Association.
The percentage of member companies saying New Jersey is a good place for new or expanded business facilities doubled to 18 percent in this year’s survey, released the past week. Twenty-eight percent said it’s still a poor place to do business.
Companies gave much of the credit for the improvement to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, with 74 percent saying he’s doing a good-to-excellent job for the second straight year, a degree of approval unseen in two decades.
Strong majorities of respondents said New Jersey is improving compared to others states on promoting economic development, attitude toward business, controlling government spending, attracting new business and controlling energy costs.
The three “most troublesome” areas for New Jersey businesses are health insurance costs, property taxes and the overall cost of doing business in the state, which have led this part of the survey for many years. They were followed in the problem rankings by regulations, state taxes, frivolous lawsuits and labor costs.
The 1,568 companies participating in the survey had generally more upbeat outlooks for themselves and the state than they did for the nation — not surprising since the survey was given in September following the U.S. credit rating downgrade and the politically fraught increase in the U.S. debt ceiling.
Only 14 percent of companies expect a better U.S. economy in the first six months of 2012, down from the 23 percent who were optimistic at this time last year. Those expecting worse jumped to 43 percent from 33 percent.
Nearly half of companies expect New Jersey’s economy to be about the same, with slight decreases in those who think it will get worse or better.
Companies were much more upbeat about their own prospects, with 42 percent saying they expected sales to increase versus 24 percent who think sales will decline in the year ahead.
That positive view doesn’t carry over into the job market, however.
Slightly fewer companies this year, 15 percent, said they expect to increase employment in the year ahead, but at least slightly fewer said they expected to cut jobs too.
“There is some improvement, but many businesses continue to struggle, and they are understandably reluctant to hire,” Philip Kirschner, president of NJBIA, said in a statement.
One bright spot for private sector workers is that nearly half of companies expect to be giving pay increases in 2012, while just 4 percent think they’ll be cutting pay — both improvements over the prior year’s survey…