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The Conference Room: The Road Ahead

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz

There appear to be new reports out every day concerning our economy—some that say the recession is over, and some that say a long road remains to recovery. Here, a financial expert and economist share their outlook concerning the future of South Jersey’s business climate.

“We seem to be behind the curve, so to speak. We didn’t bubble up when the bubble was bubbling to begin with, and we are collectively not recovering as much as others, especially in the small- to mid-sized business category.”

Stanley H. Molotsky, President (left)
The SHM Financial Group, Collingswood
“If you drive up Kings Highway in Haddonfield, or Route 70 and Kings Highway in Cherry Hill, there’s a multitude of empty stores and more vacancies. I think it’s going to take a while to get through all this in this area. If [the economy] is flat, we should be happy, as long as it doesn’t go into reverse. There’s more improvement from an investing point of view based on age category. Our clients are various ages; the majority of them are 60-80, where they’re close to or are in retirement. They have seen some good times as well as difficult times. Overall, they are basically in very good shape financially. Come down to the 30-50 year olds, that’s a struggle. It’s very difficult in that age group to put money aside for retirement, whenever that may be. It’s not going to get any better in the near term in my opinion.”

“It was a tough recession for South Jersey, and while the region’s economic recovery will press forward in 2012, it promises to be another trying year.”

James Marple, Senior Economist (right)
TD Bank
“Most encouragingly, regional job growth has finally started to improve. Unfortunately, it will still be years before the jobless rate ... reaches its pre-recession level of around 5 percent. Government cutbacks will remain a key drag on growth—New Jersey faces an estimated $10.5 billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2012 (36 percent of its general budget). Even the outlook for Atlantic City’s tourism and gaming sector is mixed. Potential rule changes surrounding betting may boost gaming revenues, but competition from Pennsylvania’s casinos is sure to remain steep. Finally, while South Jersey’s housing market should be buoyed by strengthening rental activity, it will continue to struggle under the weight of one of the nation’s largest foreclosure inventories. All told, the region’s economy is likely to grow modestly in 2012, but should strengthen over the course of the year as the risk from Europe dissipates and global growth begins to accelerate.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 2, Issue 1 (January, 2012).
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