December 11, 2018

Amid mixed signals, Mass. business confidence ticks upward

A three-month slide in business confidence came to an end in November, barely.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts reported Tuesday that its business confidence index rose 0.6 points to 61.6, with any reading above 50 considered in positive territory.

"The survey reflects the uncertainty facing employers amid a still-strong state and national economy," Raymond Torto, chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors, said in a statement. "Employers are increasingly confident in the economy but less so in the prospects for their own companies and in their own hiring plans. Economic growth remained at a solid 3.3 percent in Massachusetts for the third quarter, but that was a slowdown from earlier in the year. Payroll employment was up for the quarter but weakened in August and September."

AIM President and CEO Rick Lord said some employers are looking forward to President Trump working in 2019 with a divided Congress. "The prospect of divided government in which Democrats will control the US House of Representatives and Republicans the Senate and the White House provides some assurance to employers who do not relish policy lurches to the left or right," Lord said.

The November reading was one point lower than November 2017 and 2.5 points lower than at the beginning of 2018.

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