Survey finds most CEOs optimistic about N.J. economy

A new survey shows New Jersey CEOs are increasingly optimistic about the state’s economy.

Just over 70 percent of the corporate executives participating in a recent survey say New Jersey is a “fair” or “excellent” place to do business. That’s up from 51 percent in 2009.

The survey was conducted by the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. Dean James Hughes says that, while the state’s economy is improving, there’s still a long way to go.

“I think more people in New Jersey believe in flying saucers than believe the recovery is 3 full years old,” Hughes said. “Despite improvement … we still have a big employment deficit and are far from where we were before the recession began.”

Forty-two percent of the CEOs said they expect to add jobs this year.

They’re still concerned about New Jersey taxes, however, which they say are worse than most other states.

Others, such as Madeleine Robinson, the CEO of LPS Industries, a manufacturer of flexible packaging, says she is having difficulty finding qualified workers.

“People that just don’t fit apply. Sometimes you hire. They don’t show up. Trying to hire a machinist, it’s impossible. They just aren’t around,” she said Tuesday. “So manufacturing has gone so low, I think, in the United States that people don’t have the skills anymore.”

Other company leaders say debt crises in European countries are a threat to their own businesses.

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