General Business

Testing the Mettle and Morale of NJ Businesses

All I can say is WOW! As I write this, it’s 11 days after Election Day and Jack Ciattarelli has finally conceded to Gov. Phil Murphy. One thing is for sure – New Jersey has reasserted that we are a moderate, up the middle state, not an extreme on either side.

But these results do play into the ongoing dilemma for New Jersey businesses – the continued lack of predictability of what is to come, at a time when they need stability more than ever.

Recall the stories of the ongoing hiring challenges throughout 2021.

I think back to a July press conference we held at a restaurant in Point Pleasant Beach. We were able to use the parking lot of this establishment because it was closed on what was an otherwise beautiful summer day on the Manasquan Inlet. Normally open seven days a week in the peak season, this restaurant needed to close to give its limited staff a much-needed day of rest. The owner even had to hire her 75-year-old father to help fill staffing gaps.

Stories like this still permeate the state.

While I am forever bullish on our great state, I can’t help but consider how the historic hiring challenges, rising costs, and supply issues of 2021 followed a 2020 filled with COVID shutdowns, restrictions and mandates. And, now heading into 2022, what effect this has had on our business owners’ plans for their future.

Given this backdrop, we utilized our 63rd annual Business Outlook Survey, click HERE, to quantify whether New Jersey businesses were re-evaluating how long they want to stay in business.

Fortunately, 37% said their plans have not changed. However, 28% said they will look to cease or sell their business sooner than previously anticipated, while another 31% said they are still determining whether their future plans will change because of these persistent roadblocks.

This signals that despite New Jersey businesses wanting to be bullish, there are unquestionable signs of fatigue going on, and burnout for many managing a workforce.

Add to this, the disparate impact childcare issues continue to have on women as we try to close the wage gap. A recent study showed that if women’s labor participation rate equaled men, our GDP could be 5% higher, showing this equity concern is a significant economic one as well.

And as noted, the most challenging issue right now continues to be the lack of predictability for what is ahead. This extends beyond the pandemic as we work our way through the “lame duck” and into a new legislative session.

Don’t despair! There are signs of that business bullishness I noted above.

Thirty-three percent of employers increased worker pay by 5% or more in 2021 – compared to 12% in 2020. All totaled, 72% of employers increased wages in 2021, compared to 54% who raised pay in 2020.

This will continue in 2022, with 22% saying they will increase wages more than 5%. A year ago, only 9% said they would increase pay more than 5%. While indications would suggest that this trend is driven by the hiring crisis, it still shows that our businesses will not just pack up and go home.

Yes, we have much to do heading into 2022. Rest assured that NJBIA will continue to tirelessly advocate on your behalf, while providing resources and access to all that you need to weather this ongoing storm. Together, we will get to that better place. We know we can.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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