SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

November 11, 2013

Report: State outgains U.S. in quarterly GDP

From Wire and Staff Reports
The Salem News

---- — BOSTON — The Gross Domestic Product in Massachusetts grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, statistics show, faster than the 2.8 percent U.S. GDP growth rate reported last week by the U.S. Commerce Department.

MassBenchmarks, published by the UMass Donahue Institute and reflecting the views of area economists, noted an accelerated pace of growth in Massachusetts during the quarter, compared to the second quarter, when the state’s annual growth rate was 1.7 percent and U.S. GDP grew at a 2.5 percent annual clip.

Economists, however, cautioned that the rate of growth in Massachusetts during the fourth quarter is due to slow, in part due to the federal government shutdown in October and the effects of federal spending cuts, which analysts say are a threat to research, higher education, health care and the defense sectors.

At 7.2 percent, the most recently released Massachusetts jobless rate — for September — matched the U.S. unemployment rate.

But the state’s rate had been pegged at 6.8 percent at the end of August.

According to MassBenchmarks, a recovering housing market and consumer and business spending are driving growth in Massachusetts and providing some relief from the federal spending cuts and higher federal payroll taxes.

The journal’s authors also noted their third-quarter assessment is incomplete because the government shutdown delayed the release of September employment data. State labor officials plan a Nov. 22 release of the next round of jobs and unemployment information, a larger batch of data that will cover August, September and October.

The Commerce Department said the U.S. GDP growth in the third quarter beat the expectations of market observers who expected a 1.9 percent increase.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the economy grew at its fastest pace since the third quarter of 2012.

In the first quarter, the Massachusetts economy expanded at a 3.4 percent annual rate compared to 1.1 percent for the U.S. economy.