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Mass. Economy Grew At 4.2 Percent Rate In 1st Quarter

This year is off to a strong start, as far as the Massachusetts economy is concerned.

The state economy expanded 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, according to the latest MassBenchmarks report from the University of Massachusetts, released Thursday morning.

The state figure is far better than national economic growth, which slowed to a rate of 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Despite the growth, the report urged caution.

"While growth in the first quarter was robust, the economy remains fragile," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, associate professor of economics and public policy at Northeastern University and a senior contributing editor to MassBenchmarks. "The state's residential housing sector continues to be depressed — sales are slow, housing starts are moribund, and prices are stagnant."

Another report editor, Michael Goodman, said the state's economy is buoyed by strength in its technological sector. But he said that isn't benefiting everyone.

"Underneath all these numbers I think is some striking inequality that still remains a major challenge and helps explain why many people out there aren't experiencing the benefits of this relatively robust growth," Goodman said.

Related:

This program aired on April 28, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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