Survey: Most business leaders expect N.J. recovery to be slower than rest of U.S.

1 in 3 businesses expect losses to continue in 1st half of 2021, annual report by NJBIA reveals

Most New Jersey business leaders feel the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will come at a much slower pace than the rest of the country — with many not expecting a rebound at all in 2021, according to the 62nd Annual Business Outlook Survey by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

When asked how New Jersey’s economy will fare in the first six months of 2021, 28% reported it would be better, while 40% said it would be worse. Respondents were decidedly more upbeat about the U.S. economic outlook. Some 54% thought the national economy would perform better through the first six months of 2021, compared with 17% who said it would fare worse.

In addition, one in three respondents said they expect their businesses will continue to lose revenue for the first half of 2021 — with 1 in 10 expecting the loss in revenue to continue throughout the entire year.

And, while 41% of business leaders think their company will make a profit in 2021, compared with 27% who do not, the net positive of 14% percent is the lowest it has been since 2012. And, of those who expect to make a profit, 41% feel it will be between 1-3%.

The results, released Monday morning, are based on 1,070 responses to the NJBIA’s annual survey. Most respondents were small businesses, with 66% employing 24 or fewer people.

And, this most be noted, the survey was taken in mid-September, prior to the second wave of COVID-19 the state and nation currently are experiencing. It’s difficult to gauge the impact this second wave would have had on responses — though it’s hard to imagine it would make people more optimistic.

For comparison, know this: During the seven-day week of Sept. 14-20, the state recorded a total of 3,373 new COVID-19 cases. The state has easily topped that mark on every individual day the past two weeks.

For a complete look at the survey, click here.

Below is a look at some of the questions and survey results:

Profit and loss

  • P&L in 2020:
    • 20% expect to report net profit;
    • 62% expect to report a net loss;
    • This is first net negative in earning (-42%) since 2012.
  • P&L in 2021:
    • 41% expect to have a net profit;
    • Of those anticipating a profit, 41% expect it to be between 1-3%;
    • 27% expect to have a net loss;
    • Net positive (+14%) is lowest outlook since 2012 (9%).


  • Reducing overhead, head count in 2020:
    • Reduced salaries (20%);
    • Furloughed employees (22%);
    • Laid-off employees (23%).
  • Raises in 2020:
    • 54% of companies gave pay increases — down 23 percentage points from last year;
    • 40% gave no raises — 19 percentage points more than last year;
    • 6% lowered their wages — compared with 1% last year.
  • Raises in 2021:
    • 28% plan to provide bump of 1-2.9% — down 6 percentage points from this year;
    • 42% plan to give no raises — 2 percentage points more than this year.


  • Coming/going in 2020:
    • 10% increased hiring;
    • 33% decreased employment;
    • Net negative (-23%) is first since 2012.
  • Coming/going in 2021:
    • 25% expect to increase hiring;
    • 10% expect to reduce hiring;
    • 65% expect hiring will stay at same pace.

Looking ahead/back at losses

  • Future losses:
    • 27% expect to lose revenue through the rest of 2020;
    • 33% expect to lose revenue through the first half of 2021;
    • 11% expect to lose revenue through all of 2021;
    • 6% expect to lose revenue beyond 2021.
  • Recovering 2020:
    • 47% said they will take more than a year to, or never will, generate profits lost during non-essential business closures;
    • 56% have sought additional or alternative funding sources through federal and state loans and grants as part of their coronavirus-based challenges.