State Chamber of Commerce survey finds guarded optimism for revenue, sales growth

Things are looking up for N.J. businesses, according to a new survey.

New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce members are optimistic about the state’s business climate over the next 12 months, with most (56 percent) saying they expect their companies’ revenue to jump – and one in four expecting the increase to exceed 5 percent, according to a recent survey conducted by the State Chamber announced Wednesday.

Chamber members also said they would consider supporting Gov. Chris Christie if he threw his hat in the ring for the U.S. presidency, but with a caveat – they want him to finish his business in New Jersey first. While two-thirds of the respondents reported they would support a run for president by Christie, most of them said they would do so after he finishes his term as governor, according to a Chamber release.

These findings are the results of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Business Climate Survey for the spring conducted in late March. 

According to the survey, Chamber members feel better about the prospects of their companies’ sales and about half expect their profits to rise, too. But only 17 percent expect their profits to exceed 5 percent. 

Interestingly, when asked about revenue and profits in their industries overall, Chamber members became slightly less bullish – with only one in ten expecting industry profits to increase by more than five percent.

“The results tell us our members see significant challenges still to be overcome, but they believe New Jersey is finally headed in the right direction,” said Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce. “They are telling us they expect continuing improvement in New Jersey’s economy and that this year is better than last and next year will be better still.” 

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s Business Climate Survey is conducted twice annually. A total of 118 members participated in the survey. Four in ten respondents are presidents and CEOs and six in ten said they are senior level executives. Half of the respondents represent companies with less than 50 employees and nearly half have revenues above $10 million.

Survey respondents were considerably more guarded about the state’s jobs picture.

Over half (56 percent) of respondents said they expected no change in the number of employees in their own company this year and about 45 percent said the same about their industry  over the next 12 months. About 29 percent envision more hiring, while one in four predict less.

“Employment is traditionally a lagging indicator of economic recovery and that seems to be the case in this survey,” said Bracken. “While half our members expect the unemployment picture to remain unchanged this year, it is notable that among the other half, considerably more companies expect an increase in the workforce than expect to see a decrease.”

When asked to characterize the state’s economy since Gov. Christie took office in January 2010, six in ten respondents credited him for the state’s emerging economic turnaround. Of those, slightly more than half characterized this improvement as “moderate.” About a third said there has been no change.

One in three respondents expressed moderate or extreme concerns about the cost of energy and its impact on the state’s economic recovery.

State Chamber of Commerce survey finds guarded optimism for revenue, sales growth