As the economy recovers from the pandemic downturn, business owners and executives are facing new challenges — many of them familiar in kind, if not cause. Higher costs for raw materials, manufactured goods and labor all threaten to suppress growth. And the lingering uncertainty related to COVID-19 variants isn’t helping.
One constant positive factor throughout the pandemic was the low-interest environment fostered by the Federal Reserve as a way to spur growth. But the central bank raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points recently and Chairman Jerome Powell indicated a cycle of even larger increases could be in the offing.
So what should the business community make of the current environment? This edition of NJBIZ Conversations features an interview with Chris Maher, the CEO of OceanFirst Financial. In a return engagement, Maher discussed the outlook for inflation, hiring and the industries showing strength amid the turmoil.
“The good news about inflation is that demand is really strong across most all industries,” Maher said. “Obviously, we’re seeing a lot of growth in the services sector, where people have been putting off or unable to do what they enjoy doing since COVID began. So restaurants are strong, personal services, spa services and things like that. But you’re also seeing tremendous strength in healthcare as we onshore more and more research and development, production facilities. We see that in metro Philadelphia, we see it up in Boston.”