February 12, 2019

Biz confidence in Mass. at lowest level since October 2016

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) Business Confidence Index lost 0.9 points, falling to 57.7, its lowest level since October 2016. According to the business trade group, confidence has dropped 6.4 points during the past year, but remains in "optimistic territory," which is any reading over 50.

AIM on Tuesday also reported the results of a separate survey, which found that 10 percent of Massachusetts employers have seen a significant effect or a threat to the existence of their business from U.S. tariffs on good from China or other countries. Seventy-one percent of Massachusetts employers reported seeing some effect from new tariffs, with increases in the prices of raw materials constituting the most common consequence.

"The Massachusetts economy grew at 2.1 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018 and continues to operate at near full capacity," Raymond Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors, said in a statement. "At the same time, employers continue to confront uncertainty surrounding trade policy, demographic constraints on the labor market and the implementation of a sweeping paid family and medical leave program in Massachusetts."

AIM President Rick Lord said businesses in Massachusetts are feeling the pinch from a two-year MassHealth assessment, an increase in the minimum wage and a paid family and medical leave that comes with a new payroll tax. "We hear frequently from Massachusetts employers who feel under siege from both the sheer expense of these programs and the administrative burden they place on companies, particularly smaller companies," he said.

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