NJ biz outlook for 2020 not very rosy

David Madden
December 29, 2019 - 4:30 am

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — An annual survey of New Jersey businesses suggests some serious concerns going into 2020.

This is the 61st year that members of New Jersey’s Business and Industry Association were asked to chime in on what they expect going forward. President and CEO Michele Siekerka says over 850 members responded, most of them small business owners.

Bottom line? 2019 was OK, but not great. “The outlook for 2020 is at an 11-year low and that means there’s much more negativity,” Siekerka told KYW Newsradio. “That’s for the New Jersey economy. For the U.S. economy, the outlook is drastically lower as well.”

Those national fears are reflected in many similar studies across America.

“56% of those surveyed believe that there’s a recession on the horizon in the next two years,” she added. “But more particular to the state of New Jersey, our lack of competitiveness in the region continues to worsen.”

More than half the bosses surveyed said they’re making plans now to soften the blow of an economic downturn by forestalling raises or hiring additional staff. They’ll cut costs too.

Many are also worried about the cost of Governor Phil Murphy’s progressive agenda. Siekerka says taxes and regulation are bad enough. Phasing in a $15 per hour minimum wage could force many owners to raise prices, cut staff and benefits or all of the above. And if recreational marijuana is legalized, 75% of respondents fear it could affect productivity and worker safety.