Even though the national current unemployment rate is hovering around 7%, New Jersey business owners are optimistic about their hiring plans for 2014, with nearly 60% saying they plan to hire additional full- or part-time employees next year, according to a recent survey by Provident Bank, http://www.providentnj.com, the oldest community bank operating exclusively in New Jersey for nearly 175 years. Further, Provident Bank's 2013 Business Barometer, which surveyed more than 300 business owners and members of executive management of New Jersey-based businesses, revealed that 78% are either very or somewhat optimistic about their business outlook for 2014. “While the recovery has been slow and Superstorm Sandy was a decidedly defining setback for businesses here in New Jersey, our research underscores a compelling outlook among New Jersey’s business leaders here that better days lay ahead,” said Provident Bank President and CEO Chris Martin. The 2013 Business Barometer revealed, however that this sense of optimism is somewhat tempered by a good dose of reality and the lessons learned over the last half a decade. The vast majority of business owners did not borrow money for their businesses in 2013, with 79% saying so. Another 68% said they do not plan to borrow in 2014 either, citing the economy and consumer confidence as among their two top business concerns. Other important business concerns that respondents cited were the country’s political climate, New Jersey’s property taxes and the state’s own political climate. “These have been challenging years for New Jersey businesses, and the political and economic uncertainty have understandably impacted business owners’ willingness to overextend themselves and take on additional debt. But, all things considered, the survey revealed just how resilient business owners are here, how eager they are ready to embrace the next business cycle and are poised for growth,” noted Martin.
Among the 2013 Business Barometer’s other findings are:
- The majority of business owners (33%) indicated that their businesses “held their own” during the last 12 months; 9% said business was great; 28% said it was good; 23% reported struggling a bit, and 8% said business was poor.
- Among those who said they held their own or business was good or great, the business owners attributed such factors as the economy picking up, hard work and long hours, and an influx of new customers to their outlook.
- Only 6% of respondents said they were not at all optimistic about their business in 2014.
- The majority of respondents (72%) indicated their business will grow in 2014 as compared to 2013, with growth rates reported in the range of less than 3% to more than 10%.
- Consultants are proving a good option for managing workforce needs in uncertain times, with nearly one-fifth (19%) of survey respondents saying they were planning to increase their use of consultants in 2014.
- Most businesses (67%) indicated their workforce remained stable in the last year. Another 18% actually increased their headcount and 15% decreased it in the last 12 months.
- Of those business owners that did borrow money in 2013 for their business, they cited needing the cash for growth (27%), new equipment (23%), and capital improvements (19%) as the primary reasons. Along the same lines, of those that plan to borrow money for their business in 2014, 33% cited for growth, 17% cited new equipment and 16% cited capital improvements.
“With change, there’s often an opportunity for growth and the cultivation of fresh thinking,” noted Martin. “Over the course of our long history here in New Jersey, we have seen firsthand how resilient and innovative our business culture is through many business cycles. New Jersey’s business owners are now showing once again their sense of optimism and ingenuity with an eye toward growth as we enter this new cycle in our economy.”About the Survey Provident Bank’s 2013 Business Barometer is an annual survey of New Jersey business owners and senior management to assess their views about the state of their businesses and the overall business economy in New Jersey. More than 300 respondents (344 total: 171 non Provident Bank customers and 173 Provident Bank customers) completed the survey in October 2013. Of the companies surveyed, 1% was publicly traded, 42% were privately held and 58% were family-owned and operated. Their longevity ranges from one to five years old to more than 50 years in business, with the majority of respondents having been in business for 1-5 (28%). Respondents fell across a wide range of business and industry, with the highest concentration of respondents in professional services, service, retail and other industries. For a copy of the survey, please contact Robert Pertain, first vice president and marketing director, at (732) 590-9403 or Robert.Pertain@ProvidentNJ.com. About Provident Bank With $5.3 billion in deposits, Provident Bank ( www.ProvidentNJ.com) serves its customers via a network of full-service branches throughout northern and central New Jersey. Provident Bank is the wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS), which reported assets of $7.3 billion as of June 30, 2013.