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By PBN Staff
By PBN Staff
HADLEY, Mass. – The Massachusetts economy grew 5.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the third time in 2013 that quarterly growth in the Bay State outpaced the national GDP growth rate, local economy journal MassBenchmarks reported Thursday in its Current Economic Index.
The 5.5 percent Massachusetts annual growth rate was unchanged compared with the revised third-quarter growth rate, also 5.5 percent, but exceeded the U.S. fourth-quarter growth rate of 3.2 percent, which declined from 4.1 percent in the third quarter.
In the first quarter, economic activity in Massachusetts grew 3.5 percent compared with 1.1 percent growth nationally, and in the second quarter, the U.S. economic growth rate of 2.5 percent exceeded the Massachusetts rate of 1.9 percent.
“The Massachusetts economy appears to be benefiting from improving conditions in national and international economies, and by increasingly confident households who are demonstrating a willingness to spend,” said Alan Clayton-Matthews, MassBenchmarks’ senior contributing editor, who compiled and analyzed the current and leading indexes.
The report attributed the fourth-quarter performance of Massachusetts’ economy to “strong” employment growth, rising wage and salary incomes, and a higher rate of consumer spending.
Among specific economic indicators, wage and salary incomes grew 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter, up from a 2.9 percent increase the previous quarter, and dollars spent on products tied to state regular sales and motor vehicle sales taxes increased 9.2 percent compared with an increase of 6.5 percent in the third quarter.
While state employment grew 3 percent in the three months ended in December, compared with 0.7 percent growth the previous quarter, the report cited unemployment as a “big problem” in Massachusetts, with the state jobless rate of 7 percent in December greater than the national rate for a second consecutive month.
The report’s Leading Economic Index, which forecasts the annual rate of economic growth over the next six months, projected a 5 percent GDP growth rate for Massachusetts in the first quarter of 2014 and a 4.7 percent growth rate in the second quarter.
MassBenchmarks is published by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.