Massachusetts Q1 growth more than double slow U.S. pace

BOSTON Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:39pm EDT

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BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts' economic growth surged ahead of the overall United States in the first quarter of 2011, buoyed by the state's technology-intensive industries, a report said on Thursday.

The real gross state product grew at an annual estimated rate of 4.2 percent, more than double the national economy's expansion of 1.8 percent, said the study by MassBenchmarks, a quarterly journal published by the University of Massachusetts.

Strong demand for semi-conductors and other technology products continued to be a key factor in the state's performance.

Massachusetts' growth generally matched that of the nation most of last year, but overall the state's recession was shorter and less severe than that of the United States as a whole, according to the analysis.

The group's leading indicators predicted Massachusetts' economy will grow at an annualized rate of 4.4 percent over the next six months.

Even so, despite the positive indicators the report warns of a still-fragile economy.

"The state's residential housing sector continues to be depressed," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, senior contributing editor to the report and an associate professor of economics and public policy at Northeastern University.

"The public sector continues to shed jobs and a number of international wild cards, including a European debt crisis, a supply chain disruption related to the disaster in Japan, and uncertainty in oil markets are weighing heavily on the state and global economic outlook," he said.

High unemployment, which stood at 8 percent in Massachusetts in March, is also a factor, the report said.

The MassBenchmarks board includes economists from several top universities, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Boston-based State Street Bank.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Ros Krasny and Jerry Norton)

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