Mean­while, the group’s Employ­ment Index, which mea­sures con­fi­dence in hiring, rose to 50.6 in December, a 1.5-point jump. “Employers tend to be rel­a­tively con­fi­dent about the sit­u­a­tions of their own oper­a­tions, but this is less true in times of high uncer­tainty,” said Alan Clayton-​​Matthews, pro­fessor at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, a BEA member. “Under the cir­cum­stances it’s good to see the Employ­ment Index up a bit and above 50, though the read­ings are barely positive.”

Con­fi­dence among man­u­fac­turers took a rel­a­tively large jump of 3.5 points to 48. But among other sec­tors, con­fi­dence declined. “These two trends are prob­ably related, as man­u­fac­turing forms a larger part of the economy out­side the imme­diate Boston area,” Clayton-​​Matthews noted. “Smaller com­pa­nies, which in many cases pay per­sonal rather than cor­po­rate income taxes, were much more neg­a­tive than large ones on most questions.”

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