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Jersey CPAs optimistic about the economy

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New Jersey CPAs are more optimistic about economic conditions in the state than they were a year ago, according to the second annual survey commissioned by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Findings from the survey include:

- 28 percent currently view economic conditions in New Jersey as better than a year ago; only 18 percent felt that way in 2012.
- 28 percent currently said the New Jersey business climate is excellent or good, up from 21 percent in 2012.
- 65 percent said the New Jersey business has improved since Governor Christie took office, versus 58 percent in 2012.

The leading issues that will hinder economic growth in New Jersey, the survey found: rising health care costs (41 percent), public pension funding (33 percent), a declining tax base (33 percent) and regulatory burdens (32 percent).

The key recommendations from CPAs to increase economic expansion and job growth in the state are reducing property taxes (39 percent), pension reform (36 percent) and less government red tape (31 percent).

Health care remains a major issue. Asked for the greatest concern of operating a business in New Jersey over the next year, 25 percent cited the implications of health care reform, with 68 percent said they are postponing hiring decisions because of the Affordable Care Act.

A significant 64 percent of respondents said employees in their companies are postponing retirement, and the main reason is the economy (78 percent).

"Overall, the numbers are going in the right direction, but it's a daily battle," says Ralph Albert Thomas, executive director of the NJSCPA. "Our hope is that the federal and state governments will do their best to mitigate risk and uncertainty and continue to reach out to business groups – such as CPA societies – for feedback when considering pro-business policies."

Asked if the tax structure in New Jersey is better or worse than most other states, those who thought it is worse increased from 78 to 81 percent over the past year. And a major concern about operating a business over the next year was regulatory requirements. That number jumped from 18 percent in 2012 to 24 percent in 2013.

The Franklin and Marshall College Center for Opinion Research University surveyed high-level CPAs in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania during September and October 2013. There were nearly 2,000 total respondents, with 673 based in NJ.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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