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Updated: December 25, 2023 From the Editor

From the Editor: 2024 will be better

Let’s face it: We’ve all been shaking off a collective funk since 2020.

WBJ editor Brad Kane at his desk
WBJ Editor Brad Kane

The year of the coronavirus pandemic upended all the traditional norms and rocked the economy to its core, and the aftershocks have been reverberating for the last four years: workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, inflation. Some thrived in this environment; others struggled; most simply navigated the ups and downs the best they could.

Now, heading into 2024, things seem better. Maybe I just got tired of the doom and gloom and switched my perspective. Maybe I’ve simply adjusted to the new normal. Or, maybe, with inflation stabilizing, unemployment still low, and interest rates possibly coming down, things really are better. Judging by the results of WBJ’s annual Economic Forecast survey, the majority of readers agree with me. For the first time since 2019, the majority of readers said the Central Massachusetts economy is in a better place than it was a year ago and the economy will improve in the next year. See the full survey results on page 4.

Of course, challenges still surround us. As detailed in the industry forecasts from Staff Writers Eric Casey and Isabel Tehan, a number of the cornerstones of the local economy are in for a rough ride in 2024. Health care is facing a financial crisis. Higher education is in the midst of a multi-year enrollment drop of its traditional students. Diversity & inclusion efforts are getting less attention than they used to. Cannabis is heading into a period of contraction. Real estate is still dealing with high interest rates and borrowing costs, while businesses rethink their office footprints. Life science companies are right-sizing their operations.

This Economic Forecast special edition is WBJ’s annual look ahead at the coming year, with all its challenges and opportunities. Trying to predict the future based on recent and historic trends is far from a perfect enterprise. (WBJ and its readers were optimistic about the overall economic prospects heading into 2020, too.) Still, this feels like it will be the year where we finally shed the collective funk and embrace the new possibilities of tomorrow.

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