WWLP: Pre-recession employment levels won’t return until 2015, economists say
As originally appearing in WWLP - 22News Springfield, MA

Economists protect continually slow growth

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Christine Lee, 22News State House Correspondent

BOSTON (WWLP) – Economists say the Massachusetts economy is recovering, but slowly.

On Thursday, forcasters released their prediction of “slow to moderate” economic growth on the horizon for Massachusetts and New England as a whole.

Economists said job growth continues to be weak, and there continues to be uncertainty in our regional outlook as they gathered for an annual conference hosted by the New England Economic Partnership . They predict job growth will continue slowly at about 1.3% per year, and overall economic growth will increase by about 2.8% per year.

To hasten recovery, economists said Massachusetts should work to fill the “middle skills gap” and pressure the federal government for road and bridge grants to revive the construction industry.

“So we talked about how to better align education with the economy and with the needs of industries that are expanding in the region and we focused on advanced manufacturing,” said Ross Gittell, Vice President of the New England Economic Partnership.

Jim Brett, the CEO of the New England Council said that there are plenty of opportunities in manufacturing in western Mass.

“We know many, many, many mid-sized manufacturing companies that have said to us ‘we have openings,’” Brett said.

Economists blamed the sluggish economy on global and U.S. economic conditions, such as the weak European economy and debt crisis, and the declining U.S. housing market.

They predict New England will not return to pre-recession employment levels until 2015.

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