May 2, 2018

Greater Worcester economy grows 2.3%

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An Assumption College professor says the Worcester-area economy is growing.

According to an Assumption College economics professor, the Greater Worcester economy grew about 2.3 percent over the first quarter.

That growth makes the quarter the strongest single quarter since 2016, according to Professor Thomas White and his Worcester Economic Indicators (WEI) report.

The report, an estimate of local economic activity based on Worcester-area employment and unemployment figures, found a relatively unchanged unemployment rate, but a sizeable increase in the labor force, signaling a tight labor market drawing workers back into the market, White said in a statement.

The area is poised for continued growth, White said.

"The local economy seems to have some momentum, and we should expect above trend growth in the coming months," he said.

According to the report, Worcester's Economic Index is expected to grow at a 1.8-percent annualized rate over the next six months.

To back up the report's forecast, White cited new business incorporations in Greater Worcester, which have grown about 13 percent since 2017. Another positive signal cited is the statewide initial unemployment claims falling 7 percent from a year ago.

Negatives outlined in the report, however, include recent declines in the stock market and the gradual tightening on monetary policy by the Federal Reserve.

State officials last month said the Worcester-Northeast Connecticut metropolitan area's unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in March from the 4.3 percent reported in February, a decrease of about 1,300 unemployed.

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