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Mass. Economic Growth Rate Seen At Nearly 5% for 2014

The state’s economy is projected to grow during the first half of 2014 at roughly double the rate of growth we saw during the same time in 2013.

That’s the word from Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews, who plays a key role in assembling the quarterly MassBenchmarks report as senior contributing editor.

The report, released today, paints a picture of an economy firing on all cylinders. Massachusetts' gross state product is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 5 percent in the first quarter of 2014, and then at 4.7 percent in the second quarter. The estimated growth rates for the same periods last year were 3.5 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. The economy did pick up steam in the second half of 2013, when it grew at an annual pace of 5.5 percent. (Nationally, the comparable fourth quarter GDP number was a 3.2-percent growth rate, while the figure for the year was 1.9 percent.)



Nearly every factor that Clayton-Matthews uses for these forecasts is pointing in a positive direction for Massachusetts. Spending on taxable items grew 6.9 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the same period in 2013. The state’s household income, meanwhile grew at a 12.3-percent annual rate in the fourth quarter. And merchandise exports were up by an estimated 4.3 percent last year, compared with a 7.7-percent decline in 2012, in part due to improving economic conditions in Europe.

And what about jobs? Well, we’ve already learned that the state’s employers added an estimated 55,000 positions to their payrolls from December 2012 to December 2013. Clayton-Matthews has more refined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows that figure is probably low: When revised job numbers are released for the state in early March, he tells me he expects roughly 15,000 jobs will be tacked on to last year’s total.

“The risks seem to have subsided,” Clayton-Matthews says. “It looks like the economy really has gained traction now. … Consumers and households are jumping in to spend, and that’s going to help the whole economy and keep the momentum going.”

Read the whole story at Boston Business Journal »

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