Business outlook improving in N.J.

 New Jersey's sales outlook has improved, reports the New Jersey Business and Industry Association's 2014 outlook survey (<a href=Business growth photo via ShutterStock) " title="sssalesgrowthx1200" width="640" height="360"/>

New Jersey's sales outlook has improved, reports the New Jersey Business and Industry Association's 2014 outlook survey (Business growth photo via ShutterStock)

An annual survey of New Jersey businesses shows increased confidence in the state’s economy.

Slightly more than a third of the companies surveyed by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association say they expect the Garden State’s economy to improve in the first six months of 2014.

About a quarter of those business owners anticipate hiring more workers, said association president Phil Kirschner, while only 9 percent say they will reduce their workforce.

“A forecast for next year of actual increased sales, of profits doing better than they were doing before,” he said. “They are more confident that they have the revenue, the demand from their customers, that they’re going to be able to keep those employees.”

Health care costs are the biggest challenge for businesses, he said. About 80 percent expect those costs will rise next year, and 60 percent believe the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact.

But Kirschner also had some words of warning.

“We’re far from healed 100 percent from the worst recession in 80 years,” he said. “If legislators are going to act as if everything is hunky-dory and is great and they act as they did before the recession, I think that would be a tremendous, tremendous mistake

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