By David Madden

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – An annual survey of the business climate in New Jersey shows things are looking up.

Almost 1,500 firms from across the Garden State took part in the 54th annual Business Outlook Survey put together by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

“It looks like business is picking up,” says Group President Philip Kirschner. “Business confidence is rising and businesses generally believe that the state of New Jersey is on the right track.”

Kirschner says the employment picture is looking brighter for the third year in a row.

“Nineteen percent of the businesses are expecting to hire more people. Only 11 percent are expecting reductions. So, we are seeing some increase in employment.”

Do the math. That’s 8 percent net job growth predicted in 2013, a number that flirts with pre-recession hiring levels.

So what’s turning things around? Well, Kirschner says the national economy seems to be coming back, but efforts to make New Jersey more business-friendly certainly haven’t hurt.

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