September 11, 2018

Mass. employers optimistic about state, national economy

The eight-and-a-half year run during which Massachusetts employers were more bullish about the state economy than the U.S. economy ended in August and analysts said the change says more about the national economy.\

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index climbed two points in August to 63.2, recovering some of the roughly five points that the index dropped over June and July. AIM said the index is two points higher than it was a year ago and is "comfortably within optimistic territory.

For the first time since May 2009, the depths of the Great Recession, Bay State employers were not more optimistic about the state economy than the national one -- both indices measured in at 64.7 in August, AIM said.

"The confluence of opinion reflects gathering optimism about the US economy rather than any weakness in the Massachusetts business climate. The Massachusetts Index rose 1.5 points during the year, but the US Index soared 4.5 points during that same period," Raymond Torto, chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors, said. He also noted that the optimism about national prospects was despite "persistent concerns about rising production costs generated by tariffs and other factors."

AIM's index has been issued monthly since July 1991. It is presented on a 100-point scale, with 50 being neutral. The all-time high of 68.5 was recorded in both 1997 and 1998, the group said, and its low was 33.3 in February 2009. The index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

AIM said August's survey results reflect what it called a "historically strong economy" for Massachusetts.

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