Few Garden State businesses see signs of economic improvement

A new survey of New Jersey businesses shows many companies are continuing to struggle.

Only about 20 percent of the companies surveyed by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association expect business conditions in the state to improve next year. About a third of them expect conditions will worsen.

Association President Phil Kirschner said 15 percent of the businesses anticipate hiring workers in the next 12 months, while 13 percent plan cutbacks.

“If you don’t have a job, it’s still very difficult,” Kirschner said. “It is improving slowly. There is some progress in that area, but it’s going to be a tough go still for next year in that area.”

Companies view state government more favorably in its attitude toward business and promoting economic development. Employers say health-insurance costs and property taxes are among their most troublesome problems.

Still, Kirschner said gradual improvement in sales and profits indicates that the worst of the economic downturn is over.

“We’re away from the bottom of the recession. There’s no question about that. We still have a ways to go to get back to the robust levels we were at in, let’s say, 2007,” Kirschner said. “But compared to 2009, it’s much better.”

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