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Massachusetts economy growth is solid

Massachusetts economy grew by a surprisingly solid 3.6 percent in the first quarter, though growth in coming months could slow a bit, according to a report released yesterday. The University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute noted the state is still largely experiencing a lackluster jobs recovery. But area firms are seeing strong revenue and profit gains-with the high tech and manufacturing sectors seeing particularly impressive improvements. "The economy is doing pretty well," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, who compiled the data for the institute's latest quarterly report. During the last three months of 2005 and the first three months of 2006, the state's expansion actually matched the nation's growth, he noted. Preliminary numbers for April and May show the trend continued through the spring, according to the UMass data. But the stock markets have been battered in recent weeks, along with consumer confidence, so the future is a little more iffy for the state, the report said. Rising interest rates and energy prices pose threats to the economy. The housing market's slowdown is also of concern, the report said. But at least the economy is growing-and the state is also generating new jobs, Clayton-Matthews said. The current expansion, though, isn't close to that seen in the 1990's and 1980's, he noted.

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