Provident survey: 86% of business leaders say they have recovered from pandemic — or expect to in 2022

Most plan to increase hiring, but say finding workers remains big challenge

An incredible 86% of business owners in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania said they have fully recovered — or expect to fully recover in 2022 — from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, more than half said they expect the majority of their staff will be working in the office over the next 12 months.

The results stem from the annual Provident Bank Economic Outlook Survey, which was released Thursday.

Anthony Labozzetta. (File photo)

Provident Bank CEO Anthony Labozzetta said the results show a positive atmosphere and attitude in a business community that was hampered by COVID-19.

“Our survey found that businesses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are not deterred by the economic challenges they faced over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “New Jersey and Pennsylvania are resilient states, and even with the hurdles businesses have faced, there remains a lot of opportunity and capacity for growth.

“We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of small to medium-sized businesses of the region.”

The survey of 381 C-level executives and business owners was not all rosy.

One of the top challenges New Jersey and Pennsylvania businesses expect to face in 2022 is a lack of workers. More than 50% of respondents said there are not enough applicants to fill open positions.

Despite this challenge, more than 45% of companies plan to increase hiring in 2022, with 60% of respondents expecting projected sales growth.

In addition, about 55% of businesses think they will run into supply-chain-related delays and shortages this year, especially those in the food service, hospitality and construction industries. The rising cost of energy, fuel, goods and services also was cited as a major hurdle to overcome for those industries specifically.

In New Jersey, lack of affordable housing was the top concern for challenges facing the state.