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By PBN Staff
By PBN Staff
HADLEY, Mass. – Improved national and global economic conditions, encouraging local job growth figures and a strengthening housing market are among the signs indicating an optimistic outlook for Massachusetts going into 2014, according to the editorial board of the MassBenchmarks economic journal.
The board, led by Executive Editor Robert Nakosteen, produces the quarterly MassBenchmarks Current Economic Index, which measures the state’s GDP growth. In 2013, Massachusetts’ economic growth outstripped the national growth rate in three of four quarters.
Preliminary estimates indicate that Massachusetts created more than 50,000 jobs in 2013, most notably in the construction industry. However, the federal budget sequester has continued to negatively affect the Bay State’s leading technology and research institutions, the board said, and household survey data suggesting a weaker employment picture than shown in the payroll data gives cause for caution.
“The challenge of income inequality, an increasingly pressing issue for the nation, faces the Commonwealth as well and may be part of the explanation for the mixed signals we are seeing in the employment data,” the board wrote in a summary of the discussion held at its Feb. 7 meeting.
The state’s economic outlook appears positive, bolstered by increased fiscal stability in the international markets of Europe and Asia, but a high unemployment rate (7 percent in December, compared with the national rate of 6.7 percent) and a lack of quality job opportunities for the young, the poorly educated and the long-term unemployed remain areas of concern.
“While the board is generally optimistic about the near-term economic outlook for Massachusetts, this optimism is decidedly cautious,” the board stated.