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Mass. Economic Growth Lags Nation's In Q3

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Economic growth in Massachusetts slowed in the third quarter to a 3.2 percent annualized rate, down from 4.8 percent in the second quarter, and is expected to slow further over the next six months, but remain "solid," according to estimates out Thursday.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent from July through September, also marking two consecutive quarters of growth, according to data released by MassBenchmarks, an economic journal published by the UMass Donahue Institute with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Both the state and national economies are rebounding since contracting during the first quarter of 2014.

In its leading index, MassBenchmarks reported the Massachusetts economy is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 2.9 percent over the next six months, or through March 2015.

"After a weak weather-affected first quarter and the rebound in the second quarter, both the Massachusetts and U.S. economies seem to have returned to moderate growth, with some inconsistent signs of acceleration in growth," MassBenchmarks senior contributing editor Alan Clayton-Matthews, a Northeastern University economics professor, said in a statement.

In the third quarter in Massachusetts, payroll employment grew at a 2 percent rate, wage and salary income grew at an annual rate of 9.2 percent, and consumer spending grew at an annual rate of 1 percent. Massachusetts exports have grown at a 5.3 percent annualized clip so far in 2014.

The jobless rate in Massachusetts rose from 5.5 percent in June to 6 percent in September, but the economic journal's authors said the increase "does not signal a weakening labor market" and reflects workers entering or re-entering the labor force because they are "gaining confidence in the economy." The size of the workforce grew by 16,900 people in the third quarter, compared to the second quarter.

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