Mass. economy grew at strong pace in first quarter
The Massachusetts economy grew at a 4.2 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year, more than twice as fast as the nation's, the University of Massachusetts reported today.
The US economy expanded at a 1.8 percent rate in the same period, the US Commerce Department also reported today. Analysts said the state's technology sector, boosted by global demand for tech products and services, was largely responsible for the state's strong growth rate.
The estimates of the state's economic performance were reported in MassBenchmarks, a UMass journal on the local economy. Alan Clayton-Matthews,a Northeastern University economics professor who prepares the estimates for the journal, called the state's growth "robust," but cautioned that the economy remains fragile.
"The state's residential housing sector continues to be depressed -- sales are slow, housing starts are moribund, and prices are stagnant," Clayton-Matthews said. "Unemployment, while steadily improving, remains high. The public sector continues to shed jobs and a number of international wild cards, including a European debt crisis, a supply chain disruption related to the disaster in Japan, and uncertainty in oil markets are weighing heavily on the state and global economic outlook."
Over the past year, the state has been growing at overall pace similar to the nation as a whole, according to the UMass analysis. The quarterly report said national and global demand for technology products, described as a "key engine" in the Massachusetts economy, has exceeded pre-recession levels, helping to boost sales of semiconductors and other technology equipment made here.