Friday, January 29, 2010

State Economic Growth Trails U.S.

When he delivered his State of the Commonwealth Address on January 21, Governor Patrick had a message for the 323,200 Massachusetts residents who are out of work. Referring to the latest jobless figures released only hours before his speech, the governor announced that “unemployment, even with the disappointing numbers released today, is not as high here as the national average…”

Fast-forward to this week, and news that the national economy grew at a robust rate of 5.7 percent in the last quarter of 2009, the fastest U.S. growth recorded since 2003. Unfortunately, the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute has estimated that the Massachusetts economy registered a decline of 0.2 percent over the same time period. Something tells us the governor won’t be so eager to promote Massachusetts’ second-place status on this particular issue.

In a press release posted on the State House News Service, Northeastern University professor Alan Clayton-Matthews blamed the “disappointing” numbers on “a poor holiday spending season … and a sharp rise in the December unemployment rate.” Which brings us back to an argument we’ve made time and time again: when it comes to jobs creation, the Patrick Administration talks a nice game, but has yet to produce any tangible results. The governor’s added thousands of new jobs in state government since taking office three years ago, but the private sector has shed another 105,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate is now nearly double what it was when he was sworn in (9.4 percent vs. 4.8 percent).

People who are out of work don’t really care how our state compares to the rest of the country. What they really want are some reassurances from their elected officials that they are doing everything possible to create new jobs and get Massachusetts residents back to work.