BUSINESS & ECONOMY

NJBIA Members Feel Good About Future

By Briana Vannozzi
Correspondent

If the predictions are true, workers and employers can expect more money in their pockets, more hiring and more revenue. It’s an optimistic picture being painted for the coming year. The New Jersey Business and Industry Association is releasing its annual outlook survey, and members say the road ahead looks pretty good.

“Four years solid, slow and steady growth and that’s what we’re predicting for 2017. New Jersey businesses feel very good about their own prospects for increasing profits, sales and jobs,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka.

The survey includes more than 1,000 NJBIA members.

Twenty-nine percent said they’ll increase employment in 2017 versus 9 percent who are likely to cut jobs. The net positive is still five points higher than last year’s forecast. Profits are anticipated to rise too, according to 48 percent of members.

But perhaps the best news? Pay raises.

Sixty-nine percent say they’ll give wage increases. Most of those members say it’ll be anywhere from 1 to nearly 5 percent.

“These are not important data elements of the economy. But rather what they are are just people’s opinions and what their thoughts are. You can certainly take it in the spirit that I think it was intended that perhaps psychologically, behaviorally people are looking toward better times,” said Seton Hall University Professor Scott Rothbort.

While members are bullish on their own industries, they’ve got big concerns about the state’s overall economic future.

Sixty-seven percent listed health insurance costs as a top concern, 20 percent listed property taxes and another 20 percent said the cost of doing business was their number one concern. Seventy percent say an increase to minimum wage will impact business. Though only 34 percent anticipate reducing staff as a result.

“New Jersey has done a great job over the last few years in attracting business. We’ve had very successful incentive programs. Choose New Jersey has done a great job in getting out there and marketing the state of New Jersey, looking to attract business. However we have some very fierce competition. I mean New Jersey right on our border which is the number two out-migration state, they’re really going to town on incentives and we can’t offer the type of incentives that they can,” Siekerka said.

The numbers, of course, are predictions. We’ll have to wait until next year to see how closely they hit or by how much they lag. Though the NJBIA predicts brighter days are ahead, now that a tumultuous election cycle is behind us and tax reform has finally passed.