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Mass. Economic Growth Outpaces U.S. In 1st Quarter

BOSTON — The Massachusetts economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.6 percent over the first three months of the year, far surpassing the growth rate of America’s gross domestic product over the same period, according to two preliminary estimates out Wednesday.

The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy’s expansion slowed significantly in the first quarter of 2014, from 2.6 percent in 2013′s fourth quarter to just 0.1 percent.

Analysts attributed much of the slowdown to the nation’s particularly harsh winter.

But the U.S. GDP figure was still far behind expectations; the consensus estimate was an annualized growth rate of 1.2 percent.

Massachusetts’ expansion also slowed from one quarter to the next, but at a higher level: from a revised 4.4 percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2013, to last quarter’s 2.6 percent, according to MassBenchmarks, an economic index published by the UMass Donahue Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“The relatively strong growth for Massachusetts in the first quarter reflects a moderate increase in employment, a sharp fall in the unemployment rate, very strong wage and salary income growth, and increased spending by households and businesses,” said MassBenchmarks’ senior editor Alan Clayton-Matthews, in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in March, continuing a monthslong dip. The jobless rate has fallen from 7.1 percent in December 2013.

With winter gone and spring here, analysts are expecting the nation’s economy to pick up.

MassBenchmarks is forecasting the same in this state: Its editors expect the Massachusetts economy will grow at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent over the next six months.

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