Survey shows Mass. biz confidence at 12-year high

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STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JAN. 3, 2017….Massachusetts employers were more confident about the business environment last month than anytime in the last 12 years, a survey by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts found, with their hopes bolstered by a strong state economy and the prospect of business-friendly initiatives advancing at the federal level.

AIM’s Business Confidence Index rose 2.3 points to 60.4 in December, the fourth straight month of improved confidence and 5.1 points higher than a year ago. It is the highest level of confidence among Massachusetts businesses since December 2004, according to AIM.

“One of the most positive results of the December survey is that business confidence is strengthening uniformly across almost every sector of the economy,” Elliot Winer, chief economist at Winer Economic Consulting and member of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors, said in a statement. “Employers both large and small, manufacturers and non-manufacturers, from the Pioneer Valley to Greater Boston are more optimistic about their prospects than at any time since prior to the Great Recession.”

The AIM index has been issued monthly since July 1991. It is presented on a 100-point scale, with a score of 50 being neutral. The all-time high of 68.5 was recorded in both 1997 and 1998, the group said, and its low was 33.3 in February 2009. The index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

AIM’s Massachusetts Index, which assesses business conditions within the Commonwealth, gained 2 points to climb to 61.8 last month, placing it 5.5 points ahead of the same time last year.

The U.S. Index climbed 5.5 points to 57.5 in December, AIM said, but for the 80th consecutive month employers have been more optimistic about the state economy than the national economy.

With President-elect Donald Trump set to take office with a Republican Congress later this month, AIM said businesses are encouraged that Trump will be able to pass a tax and regulatory agenda though they are wary of potential changes in federal health care reform and international trade.

“The only certainty appears to be uncertainty for the next six months,” AIM President and CEO Rick Lord said in a statement. “The key will be to ensure that any tax reductions and regulatory reforms made on the national level are not obviated by state measures intended to make Massachusetts a progressive ‘model’ for the rest of the country.”

Copyright 2017 State House News Service