Here's the good news: A new survey of New Jersey businesses commissioned by Provident Bank reveals the majority will expand their workforce, with nearly 60 percent planning to hire employees next year.
But here's the downside: Part-time hires will outpace full-time jobs by a 2-1 margin. In fact, only 20 percent of the more than 300 business owners surveyed are planning on making full-time hires.
Provident Bank's 2013 Business Barometer, the first installment of what will be an annual survey, gathered responses from business owners and executives of New Jersey-based businesses. The survey found that 78 percent 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 that better days lay ahead," Provident Bank Chief Executive Chris Martin said.
The survey also found that the vast majority of business owners, 79 percent, did not borrow money for their businesses in 2013. And 68 percent said they do not plan to borrow in 2014 either, citing the economy and consumer confidence as among their two top concerns.
"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," Martin said. "But, all things considered, the survey revealed just how resilient business owners are here."
Other business concerns: The country's political climate, New Jersey's property taxes and the state's political climate.
Among the 2013 Business Barometer findings:
- One-third of the respondents indicated their businesses "held their own" during the last 12 months; 9 percent said business was great; 28 percent said it was good; 23 percent reported struggling a bit, and 8 percent said business was poor.
- Those who said their own or business was good or great, credited the economy picking up, hard work and long hours, and an influx of new customers.
- Only 6 percent were not at all optimistic about their business in 2014.
- The majority of respondents, 72 percent, indicated their business will grow in 2014 compared with 2013, with growth rates in the range of less than 3 percent to more than 10 percent.
- Consultants are popular, with 19 percent, saying they planned to increase their use of consultants in 2014.
- The majority, 67 percent, said their workforce remained stable in the last year, 18 percent increased their headcount and 15 percent decreased their workforce in the last 12 months.
- Those who did borrow money in 2013 said they needed the cash for growth, new equipment, and capital improvements.
When asked what they thought was the best news to come out of New Jersey in the last 12 months, among the most common words respondents used to describe their views were "business," "Governor Christie," the "economy" and "rebuilding."
The survey of 344 business owners and senior management was about evenly split between customer and non-customers of Provident. It was conducted in October 2013.