WWLP 22 News, January 2022
Economic growth in Massachusetts accelerated from the third to the fourth quarter of 2021, with real gross domestic product increasing at an 8.2 percent annualized rate, and the growth is expected to continue at slower rates over the first half of 2022, local economists reported on Thursday afternoon. MassBenchmarks, which is published by the UMass Amherst Donahue Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said real GDP in Massachusetts increased at a 6.9 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, with growth picking up in the fourth quarter due to a “respite from COVID infections in the fall.”
Looking ahead through its leading index, MassBechmarks foresees a step back from the fourth quarter pace, but continued growth rates of 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2022 and 4.6 percent in the second quarter. “The Delta variant contributed to slower growth in the third quarter, and the Omicron variant began to affect the economy only towards the end of the fourth quarter,” according to MassBenchmarks. “Otherwise, the fourth quarter of 2021 was a period of strong employment, income growth, and robust consumer spending, with somewhat stronger performance in Massachusetts than nationally.”
Despite robust employment growth that has brought back many of the jobs lost during the pandemic, the number of jobs in Massachusetts at the end of 2021 remained 4.1 percent below the levels of payroll employment at the pre-pandemic peak during February 2020. The national jobs gap remains 2.3 percent below the February 2020 peak. The jobless rate in Massachusetts fell to 3.9 percent in December, down from 8.4 percent in December 2020.