Report hails Mass. biotech spending as job creator

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State’s $1b initiative said to yield economic strength

By Robert Weisman | GLOBE STAFF MARCH 26, 2013

Halfway through a decade of investment promised by Governor Deval Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion life-sciences initiative, launched in 2008, the state has spent only about a third of the money targeted to promote the biotechnology and medical device industries in Massachusetts.

But the authors of a report set to be released Tuesday by the Boston Foundation, a philanthropic group, say the effort has helped stimulate a key sector of the state’s economy, creating more than 8,000 jobs through capital grants, tax incentives, and business loans. Read More

After declines, jobless rate in Mass. on the rise

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By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey | Worcester Telegram & Gazette | February 24, 2013

For more than two years starting in early 2010, the Massachusetts unemployment rate fell steadily, indicating that the economy was improving after a severe recession.

But recently, the trend has reversed. After falling to 6 percent in May and June of 2012, the unemployment rate ended the year at 6.7 percent.

In the Worcester metropolitan area, unemployment fell to 6.4 percent in April and May but rose to 7.2 percent by year’s end.

The reversal may be unwelcome, but it’s not entirely surprising, given the slowdown in economic growth during the second half of 2012, according to Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews. The Massachusetts economy grew just 1 percent in the last quarter of 2012, Mr. Clayton-Matthews reported in the journal MassBenchmarks. Read More

Should Mass. raise taxes?

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Four views on whether there have been enough reforms to justify Patrick’s proposed tax increase

Globe Correspondents | The Boston Globe | February 17, 2013

Yes: Pair revenue, reform

Since 1998, the Commonwealth has reduced personal and corporate income tax rates, costing the state $2.5 billion a year — leaving little to pay current bills or deal with $80 billion in past unfunded liabilities, let alone make critical education and transportation investments for our future. Yet with the public demanding reform before revenue, the governor and Legislature have been hesitant to increase taxes.

Reform is precisely what the Commonwealth has been doing. Major changes to the public employee health-insurance system and public pensions will save billions of dollars over the next 30 years. Accountability in our K-12 schools will enhance classroom quality. The Turnpike Authority was merged into the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and the “Fast 14” project has sped up bridge repairs.

Thousands of other efficiencies, big and small, have been implemented, from replacing police officers with civilian flaggers to moving 3 million Registry of Motor Vehicle transactions online. Operating under a new strict statewide performance management system, every executive office has been cutting costs. With this focus on efficiency, state government employment has grown by just 0.3 percent over the past two years, while total non-farm employment has grown by 1.9 percent. State government is shrinking as a share of the state’s economy. Read More

Rebuilding America’s middle class

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By Barry Bluestone | Boston.com | February 14, 2013

In his State of the Union address, President Obama asked us to consider how to rebuild America’s middle class. He talked about the need to bring manufacturing back to our shores, provide greater fairness in foreign trade, educate our workforce to compete in global markets, and train a new generation of skilled workers.

All of these are indeed critical elements in providing American workers and their families with the types of jobs that made many of our parents “solidly middle class.” But history tells us that there was one other element in America’s transformation from a working class society to a middle class society, and it has to do with a statistic reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of January.

According to the Bureau, the percentage of American workers who belonged to trade unions fell to 11.3 percent last year, the lowest level since the 1930s and perhaps as far back as 1918. Last year, of course, was when we saw unions being blasted across the country from Wisconsin to Illinois, and New Jersey. Read More

Expert says cities, towns need to thaw job freeze

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By Dave Solomon | New Hampshire Union Leader | February 1, 2013

GOFFSTOWN – New Hampshire job growth has been essentially frozen for the past decade, and it’s up to the cities and towns in the state to do something about it.

That was the call to action from an expert on economic development, who warned a gathering of local business owners and municipal officials on Thursday that federal and state governments are overextended and will have little to offer in the way of economic stimulus in the years ahead.

Local leadership is critical to job growth, because “companies move to municipalities, not states,” said Barry Bluestone, founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University in a presentation to a regional economic development group that embraces Manchester and 13 surrounding communities.

Bluestone was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of Access Greater Manchester, created in 2012 as Metro Center-NH, under the leadership of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and the state Division of Economic Development. Read More

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