Massachusetts Economy 2011 - From Good to Bad and Back Again
Massachusetts residents may remember a dustup last month over just how well -- or poorly - the state's economy fared last year. Employment numbers that originated with the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics appeared to show that instead of gaining 40,000 jobs in the first 9 months of last year, the state gained fewer than 3,000 jobs. Republicans pounced, saying that Governor Deval Patrick had been painting a false portrait of growth for the Bay state. Now a group of state economists has concluded that, in fact, the state did see comparatively robust growth last year.
Robert Nakosteen is an economist at UMass Amherst, and executive editor of a quarterly report called Mass Benchmarks. here's what he said last month, after new employment numbers for the first three quarters of 2011 forced a drastic reduction in estimates of the state's economic growth for the year.
"There was shock and no small amount of embarrassment."
But since then he and his colleagues got access to a broad survey of state employers, drilled down into the numbers - and the news is good.
"Now that we have a fuller picture of how these data are ultimately going to be revised - that probably won't happen for another year but we've done the work ourselves - we see that jobs grew pretty much as we first thought they had. probably around the 40,000 jobs range for 2011, maybe even a little bit more."
The U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics agrees with the new analysis. It puts Massachusetts job growth in 2011 at 1.6 percent - not exactly a steamroller , but better than the national rate of 1.4 percent and an indicator that the state did pull out of the recession faster than most other states. Governor Patrick says he knew it all along.
"I'm visiting business, I am visiting workplaces, I'm visiting the jobs and career centers, so I know what I see. And the numbers that have been reaffirmed are consistent with what I have seen."
Economist Nakosteen says that the state's relative health was driven by growth in the tech sector. He adds, however, that the growth was largely confined to the eastern part of the state, while western Massachusetts continues to struggle with the long-term retraction in the manufacturing sector.