A Massachusetts Business Confidence Index posted a 51.5 reading in September, up to 2.8 points from the August reading, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business, or AIM, said Tuesday.
AIM has been calculating its monthly business index since 1991. The index uses a 100-point scale. A reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook by the state’s employer community; a reading below 50 a negative one.
AIM noted that September’s reading continued a year-long pattern of fluctuations around the neutral 50 level. One factor dragging on confidence is the political impasse in Washington.
“Although there is a very slight upward trend in the quarterly averages of readings, from 48.6 in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 49.8, 50.5, and 50.9 in the third quarter of 2013, the fact remains that the September Index is just about where it was a year ago (51.3),”Raymond G. Torto, the chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors, said in a statement. “We are not seeing the sustained positive employer confidence that is required to spur job creation and bring down the unemployment rate – which has actually ticked up in our state.”
AIM’s index reached historical highs of 68.5 readings in 1997 and again in 1998. The all-time low was 33.3 in February 2009.