New Jersey small businesses hired at a slightly higher rate than the national average last month, though growth remains slow, according to a new survey.
Intuit Inc. released the results of its latest Small Business Employment Index today. The survey, which is based on data from Intuit Online Payroll customers, showed small businesses added about 40,000 jobs in April nationally, for an increase of 0.2 percent. In New Jersey, small business employment grew by 0.3 percent, beating out neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania.
Laurie Ehlbeck, New Jersey state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said she was a bit skeptical at the idea that New Jersey would be adding small-business jobs at a faster pace than the country as a whole.
“I think that that’s probably a stretch, considering that we’re practically the worst in the nation, as far as our tax burden,” she said. “But I’ve got to be a little optimistic here and say some of my members have been showing some optimism as far as employment.”
Ehlbeck said many of her members have businesses with seasonal ebbs and flows, and many of those are thinking about hiring extra staff for the summer.
She said the wider sense of cautious optimism is due to the 2.5 percent cap on property tax increases and Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to lower income taxes.
On the revenue side, Ehlbeck said the recovery seems to vary somewhat by sector.
“I think some sectors have shown some improvement,” she said. “Some of my restaurants members or retail members have been optimistic the last couple month about increased revenue, but other types of businesses are still struggling.”
Intuit also released its first ever Small Business Revenue Index. That survey, which uses anonymous data from QuickBooks customers, shows businesses are beginning to see their revenues return to pre-recession levels.
The data show professional, scientific and technological fields have had the strongest rebound. Health care and social services, meanwhile, remained relatively strong through the recession, but saw a modest decline over the past year.
Susan Woodward, an economist who worked with Intuit on the revenue index, said the health care and social assistance sectors are relatively recession-proof, but may be seeing a drop in revenue due to a fall in health care coverage and lower spending through employer-provided health plans.
“This may be partially a response to the recession,” she said, “but also a more general response to the change in health care policy.”
Construction, meanwhile, remains well below pre-recession levels when it comes to revenue.