NJ businesses pessimistic over economic turnaround

AP News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2009 12:56 PM

Business owners in New Jersey are not bullish about the economy in the coming year.

Fourteen-hundred employers who completed the 2010 New Jersey Business and Industry Association's annual outlook survey said the state is unlikely to rebound quickly from the recession.

A majority of employers said sales, profits and employment levels fell this year, in some cases hitting all-time lows. Most predicted that business conditions will remain poor or get worse in the year ahead.

Company owners, including many who employ fewer than 49 people, said they will keep a tight lid on spending and are unlikely to increase payroll in the coming year.

Some 91 percent of the respondents said New Jersey is worse than other states in taxes and fees.

The Nov. 3 election, which saw Republican former prosecutor Chris Christie unseat former Wall Street CEO Jon Corzine, has been viewed as a referendum on New Jersey's business climate and property taxes. The governor-elect made the state's taxes and unemployment a key part of his campaign, pledging relief to businesses and residents.

The survey found business confidence continued to erode this year, with just 11 percent of respondents agreeing that New Jersey is a good place to expand their businesses, down from 50 percent who thought so in 2000.

Business groups have said for years that New Jersey's taxes are too high and that it is an unfavorable place to locate or expand a business.

While overall pessimism remained high, one-third of the business owners expect conditions within their industry to improve in the coming year.