State Chamber Survey:
Members Optimistic About New Jersey's Economy
Most Believe Gov. Christie's National Profile is Good for N.J.
Members of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce are more optimistic about the state's business climate than they were a year ago, and more than a quarter report that they expect to hire additional staff over the next 12 months, according to a recent survey conducted by the State Chamber.
In the meantime, most Chamber members said Gov. Chris Christie's prominent national profile is good for economic development in the Garden State. And they expressed a strong preference for Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the White House.
These findings are the results of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's Business Climate Survey for spring, 2012 conducted between April 19 and May 4. Full results can be found here.
Revenues and Profits
New Jersey Chamber members responding to the survey clearly feel positive about the prospects of their companies' revenue. More than two out of three (67.2 percent) said they expect their business's revenue to improve over the next 12 months. That's up from 57 percent who responded that way in last year's survey. One in three (34.4 percent) Chamber members expect their revenues to rise by more than 5 percent over the next 12 months.
Respondents were a bit more cautious about profits with more than half (56 percent) saying they expect their business's profitability to increase over the next 12 months, up from 49 percent who responded that way last year.
"Business executives are feeling better about the direction the economy is headed," said Tom Bracken, CEO and president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "The survey results we see reflect the Christie administration's and the Legislature's focus on making it easier to do business in New Jersey. Our members acknowledge progress has been made on this front but we all agree there is much more yet to be done."
When it comes to jobs, 28.8 percent reported they expect their company to beef up their staff over the next 12 months. That is slightly above the 27 percent who said that last year. Most members (56 percent) expect no change in the jobs picture.
"Employers' confidence in the economy comes first, and new jobs follow," Bracken said. "It's all about momentum. We are looking for New Jersey to be among the states that lead, not follow, the nation back to prosperity."
Most (55 percent) of respondents expect the economy to be better 12 months from today, an uptick from the 53 percent who said that last year. Interestingly, 6 percent said they expect the economy to be "much better" in 12 months. Nobody in last year's survey said they expect the economy to be "much better" in 12 months.
While nearly two out of three Chamber members (64.7 percent) said Gov. Christie's prominent national reputation is good for economic development in New Jersey, 10.3 percent said it was negative and 25 percent said it had no effect.
Members expressed a strong preference for Mitt Romney (49.1 percent) over Barack Obama (36.2 percent) in the upcoming presidential election. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each garnered 6 percent, while Rick Santorum pulled in 2.6 percent.
More than one out of three (37.9 percent) respondents said federal health care reform has had no impact on their business. The remaining Chamber members were divided, with 38.8 percent saying it has or will hinder their business, and 23.3 percent saying it has or will help their business.
- Respondents said their greatest concern with regard to operating their business over the next 12 months is "consumer spending" - a concern that ranked fifth last year. Nearly one in three (32.1 percent) chose "consumer spending." "Regulatory requirements" was a distant second at 17.9 percent. Last year's biggest concerns - "state and local taxes" and the "implications of health care reform" - were mentioned by 16.1 percent and 11.6 percent of respondents respectively.
- 30.2 percent of respondents said casino-style gambling should be permitted at the Meadowlands Sports Complex, while 37.1 percent said Atlantic City should have the only casino gaming in the state. 27.6 percent said they don't care, and 5.2 percent said they are against gambling.
- 52.6 percent of respondents said red tape in New Jersey is "difficult, but improving." 32.8 percent said it is "worse than ever," and 14.7 percent said "it has no effect on their company."
This is the second annual New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Business Climate Survey. It is designed to measure the outlook of the State Chamber's members, which range from single entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies in a wide array of fields. A total of 112 members participated in the survey between April 19 and May 4. Most said they are presidents and CEOs or senior level executives. Full results can be found here.
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy organization that represents its members on a wide range of business and education issues. Based in Trenton, the organization also links the state's local and regional chambers on issues of importance through its grassroots legislative network. For more information, visit www.njchamber.com.