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Philly Fed: 41% of firms surveyed expect growth in 2014

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Far more employers plan to hire in the next year than fire, according to a regional economic survey that includes southern New Jersey.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia January business outlook survey released Thursday found 41 percent of firms expect employment growth over the next year, while 10 percent see their workforce declining. Those looking to hire exceed those cutting back "by a significant margin," according to the report.

Phil Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said the Federal Reserve findings are in line with the NJBIA economic survey released in November that found 26 percent of employers plan to hire and 9 percent expect to cut staff, a spread of 17 points. That is a significant gain over the prior year, when the spread was only 8 points.

"There have been a number of surveys that show more optimism in 2014 than has existed since the beginning of this great recession," Kirschner said. He said demand is picking up and both consumers and businesses "are less cautious about buying bigger ticket items. It is really good news and it is consistent."

Harvey Bass, chief executive of the staffing firm Stascom Technologies, said businesses in a wide range of sectors are hiring, but most of the job growth is at companies that do not make national headlines and with annual sales under $300 million.

"Technology companies are hiring like crazy," Bass said.

Businesses cut back on buying new technology during the recession, and this sector began to bounce back in late 2010 as the economy began to turn improve, he said. When the economy gains traction, businesses "want to automate and get the newest and the latest and the greatest" technology for their company.

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