A new survey finds many private sector businesses in New Jersey are struggling mightily as they begin to rev up operations and reopen after the pandemic shutdown.

Michele Siekerka, the president and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, says the survey finds getting back to pre-COVID profit levels will not be easy.

“Nearly half of the business owners anticipate it will take 10 months or longer to generate revenue upon their reopening, while nearly 12% say it’s going to take them even longer than that,” she said.

She pointed out the survey finds “58% of those surveyed are experiencing continual losses and 65% have a decrease in revenue.”

To accommodate revenue losses, 61% of business owners say they’ve sought additional funding by either taking out a loan, tapping credit lines or seeking some kind of government aid.

The survey also finds:

  • 45% have reduced expenses and overhead
  • 38% tapped into business reserves or personal savings
  • 29% have reduced workers’ hours
  • 21% have reduced wages
  • 28 percent have delayed bill payments

Not surprisingly, the survey finds levels of strain business owners are feeling are rising.

The survey also found 39% of respondents rated meeting payroll costs and/or payroll taxes as burdensome or very burdensome, and 42% rated paying rent or income or property taxes, loans or utilities as burdensome or very burdensome.

Additionally 40% said ensuring worker safety, including buying PPE, was burdensome or very burdensome and about a third said complying with labor mandates and concern about future liability lawsuits related to COVID-19 was either burdensome or very burdensome.

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Siekerka said that a growing number of small businesses are not able to pay their rent because there are no programs or protections to help them.

“A land owner, property owner, landlord can evict them, and I’m getting calls like that now,” she said.

Siekerka said the findings of the survey are extremely worrisome.

“These are just not sustainable numbers,” she said. “Every day we have more and more businesses who are unable to get back to the revenue levels they had pre-COVID going out of business, and unfortunately many are not going to make it.”

The full results of NJBIA's Reopening Survey can be found here.

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com