Massachusetts economy


Economic indicators, including the just released unemployment rate for April, are generally positive for Massachusetts.  But, a panel of economists writing  in the economic journal MassBenchmarks warns the state’s economy is on precarious footing. 

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Robert Nakosteen, an economics professor at UMass Amherst and executive editor of MassBenchmarks.

A Japanese automobile parts manufacturer will expand a facility in western Massachusetts rather than move jobs to Mexico.

U.S. Tsubaki will spend at least $12 million to increase the size of its manufacturing plant in Chicopee by more than a third, keeping almost 350 people working in the region, and adding 35 new jobs.  Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos, who made the announcement Wednesday, said the company had considered expanding in Tennessee or Mexico.


Massachusetts state tax credits have been approved for three companies that are planning expansion projects in the Pioneer Valley that will create new jobs.

The Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council approved a new round of state investment tax credits for nine projects statewide including ones in Springfield, Holyoke, and Westfield that promise to create a total of 139 new jobs.

Donkey Hotey/Flickr

A new report finds that even as the overall economy improves, cities and towns in Massachusetts are feeling a financial pinch. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation released its 45th annual municipal finance report. 

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with foundation president Eileen McAnney.

An exterior view of the Massachusetts State House in Boston

Massachusetts House leaders have proposed a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1st. The budget crafted by House Democrats includes no new taxes or fees and does not differ dramatically from the budget filed a month ago by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with State Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, who is vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Massachusetts is coming off the strongest year for job growth since 2000.  Even in Springfield, which has struggled to recover from the recession, there are signs of better times.

      As 2014 came to a close, the Massachusetts unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, down from 5.8 percent in November and 7.1 percent a year ago.  The state’s unemployment rate is now the lowest since the summer of 2008 before the Great Recession hit.

Donkey Hotey/Flickr

Massachusetts, like many states, offers tax credits to businesses in exchange for creating jobs.  The jobs bill passed last summer made some changes to one of the state’s primary economic development tools.

   The Economic Development Incentive Program in Massachusetts allows companies to claim state and local tax breaks in exchange for creating new jobs, retaining jobs in the manufacturing sector and committing to other private investments.  It is a $30 million a year program.


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick highlighted his administration’s success over the last eight years in job growth and economic development during an address to a business group in Springfield today.  The speech at a breakfast sponsored by the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield comes as voters are less than a week away from picking his successor.


The University of Massachusetts is preparing to open its first satellite campus. The UMass Center at Springfield will welcome its first students two weeks from today.           

The newest UMass campus is on the second floor of a Main Street office tower, where ten large classrooms have been constructed at a cost more than $5 million.  UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy predicts students will be excited about the course offerings.

" It will be a slow start, but I am sure it will ramp up very quickly once we get operational there."

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick recently signed an economic development bill that included a slew of initiatives aimed at promoting growth in various sectors. But the Democrat, a noted arts supporter, vetoed a tax credit aimed at bringing pre-Broadway theater to the commonwealth’s stages.

Shoppers in Massachusetts can look forward to a sales tax holiday later this month. The Massachusetts legislature in the closing minutes of the legislative session last week set the sales tax-free shopping days for August 16 and 17.

The sales tax holiday was included in a comprehensive economic development bill that contains dozens of programs and incentives designed to create jobs. State  Senator Gale Candaras  of  Wilbraham, who helped write the bill, acknowledges there is scant evidence the sales tax holiday does much to grow the Massachusetts economy.

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts has dropped to a six-year low. The state recorded a 5.6 percent unemployment rate in May, a drop of four-tenths percent from April.  The report ,earlier this week from the state labor department ,said the number of people working in Massachusetts was the most in almost 25 years.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian.

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Massachusetts legislators are working on an economic development package they hope to pass before the legislative session ends next month.

   The Massachusetts House approved a jobs bill backed by House Speaker Robert Deleo on a 125-23 vote.  The bill provides more than $65 million for programs and initiatives, some new and some already in existence, designed to expand economic opportunities beyond the greater Boston area.

Massachusetts has announced a rebranding of its regional employment offices as part of a campaign to get the long-term unemployed back to work.

Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian said her office will put up 62 billboards across the state, put ads on the internet, and signs on mass transit in an effort to increase usage of the state’s 33 one-stop career centers.

" We  are rebranding our efforts so that job seekers know how many services we offer to the job seeker and to the employer."


A new public cloud computing infrastructure is going to be developed in Massachusetts, as the state looks to position itself as a leader in the new sector known as “big data.” 

Massachusetts will put $3 million toward developing the open cloud project. The announcement was made by Governor Deval Patrick Friday at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke.

" Massachusetts Open Cloud will be a virtual laboratory to big data researchers and innovators in industry, academia , and government all across the Commonwealth."


A day after a report said the Massachusetts economy grew solidly at the end of last year Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick came to western Massachusetts today to promote the state’s growing manufacturing sector.

Governor Patrick toured Advance Manufacturing Co. of Westfield -- a family- owned business that employs 200 people. The company makes precision parts that are used on submarines, fighter jets, helicopters and the International Space Station.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

A federal program to provide jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed has expired, and efforts to renew it are deadlocked in the Senate.  But a shift in federal policy as a result of the bipartisan budget approved this week could be good news for job-seekers this year

The Massachusetts economy took a significant hit because of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.  A study released this week estimated the impact the $1 trillion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts had in the Bay State.


The Massachusetts Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki says he is “bullish” on the future of precision manufacturing.  But the state faces a challenge to train a workforce for jobs in the manufacturing sector.  Bialecki, last week, visited a training center at Springfield Technical Community College where the state spent $1.2 million to expand and modernize the classrooms.   WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Bialecki


Workforce development experts say Massachusetts needs more people trained for jobs in precision manufacturing.  The state is devoting money to the effort.

Springfield Technical Community College recently spent $2 million to upgrade and expand classrooms in its Mechanical Engineering Technology center.   The college received a $1.2 million dollar grant from the state. But it came with one string attached. The college had to double the number of students enrolled in the program that prepares people for careers in manufacturing.

The Massachusetts economy is already feeling the impact of  federal budget cuts.  Leading regional economists warn the federal government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling crisis could compound the problems.

There is great uncertainty about the impact the federal budget cuts, through the process known as sequestration, will have on the Massachusetts economy.   But regional economists remain cautiously optimistic, according to an analysis released this week.  

Education and the military would take among the biggest hits in Massachusetts from the automatic cuts to the federal budget  that are  scheduled take hold this week absent a compromise between the White House and  Congressional Republicans.

The White House Sunday issued a report that said sequestration, as the budget cuts are called, would result in about 7000 civilian defense department workers being furloughed, reducing gross pay by more than $43 million.   Funding for military base operations would be cut by about $13 million.


Boosted by higher home sale prices and more transactions spurred by low interest rates the amount of money spent on real estate in Hampden County last year was almost $1 billion, a nine percent increase over 2011, and the most since 2008.  Hampden County Register of Deeds Donald Ashe called it a good year for the housing market in western Massachusetts and he forecast what he called a “ steady healthy market”  for the next six months.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

Today in Pittsfield, a detailed analysis of the Berkshire County labor market was presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to highlight the changes, strengths, and challenges facing workers and employers in region. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

    The Massachusetts legislature has passed a bill designed to spur economic development and create jobs.  It should also provide a boost to the national research profile for the University of Massachusetts flagship Amherst campus.  WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports

The Massachusetts economy,  which had been growing at a much faster rate than the nation’s as a whole is showing signs of slowing.  Experts believe the Baystate is being buffeted by forces beyond its borders.   WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

   A new report from the Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Tuesday, said seasonally unadjusted  unemployment rates  rose in a majority of the state’s 22  local labor markets in June, reflecting a statewide slow down in permanent hiring.