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MORNING BRIEFS: UNION MEMBERSHIP UP | "GENERALLY OPTIMISTIC" .: The State House News Service

MORNING BRIEFS: UNION MEMBERSHIP UP | "GENERALLY OPTIMISTIC"

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE


  • MASS. UNION MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS AT TEN-YEAR HIGH

  • BUSINESS CONFIDENCE STRONG, BUT SLOWING

MASS. UNION MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS AT TEN-YEAR HIGH
An estimated 464,000 Massachusetts workers counted themselves as union members in 2018, the most since 2009, according to new federal data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union members accounted for 13.7 percent of wage and salary workers in Massachusetts last year. The U.S. average was 10.5 percent. Federal data shows there were 476,000 union members in Massachusetts in 2009, the highest level in recent years, and union members accounted for 16.6 percent of the employed workforce that year. Eight states had union membership rates below 5 percent in 2018 - North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Texas and Virginia. Two states had union membership rates over 20 percent in 2018: Hawaii and New York. More than half of the 14.7 million union members in the U.S. last year lived in California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington. In Connecticut, 16 percent of workers were union members, down from 17.5 percent in 2016, according to the data. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE STRONG, BUT SLOWING
Confidence in the economy among Massachusetts businesses mirrors the economy itself, Global Economics Executive Director Sara Johnson said: "slowing a bit but still strong overall." As measured by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, business confidence has dropped 6.8 points on its 100-point scale in the last year and hit its lowest point since 2016 in January. But Bay State employers felt better about the economy in February and the index climbed half a point to 58.2 points "as optimism about the state and national economies outweighed a darkening outlook among Massachusetts manufacturers," AIM reported Tuesday. The slight increase, AIM said, was driven by a 3.4-point boost in employer views of the Massachusetts economy and a 3.3 percent rise in their feelings towards the national economy. "Employers remain generally optimistic about a state economy that continues to run at full-employment levels and a U.S. economy that is projected to grow by 2.2 percent this year," Raymond Torto, chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors, said. "At the same time, the erosion of confidence among Massachusetts manufacturers during the past 12 months raises some concern about the long-term sustainability of the recovery." Johnson said employers have been buoyed so far this year by the end of the partial federal government shutdown and the Federal Reserve’s decision to freeze increases in interest rates, but still contend with concerns about global financial markets and the possibility of another recession. AIM's index has been issued monthly since July 1991. It is presented on a 100-point scale, with 50 being neutral. The all-time high of 68.5 was recorded in both 1997 and 1998, the group said, and its low was 33.3 in February 2009. The index has remained above 50 since October 2013. - Colin A. Young/SHNS

-END-
3/5/2019


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