Business confidence rose slightly in August but remains well below its level of a year ago, with a predominantly pessimistic outlook still prevailing. Associated Industries of Massachusetts reported Tuesday (8) morning that its business confidence index rose half a point to 46.3, better than its 2020 low of 38.4 but 12.4 points lower than its August 2019 reading, according to the SHNS.
Employer sentiments heading into the post-Labor Day period are constrained by the state’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate (16.1 percent) and “persistent weakness” in the state’s health care and education sectors, AIM said. “The good news is that employers are showing increased confidence in the prospects of their own companies.
The sobering news is that recent announcements of major layoffs by health care, higher education, and hospitality organizations in Massachusetts leave little doubt about the challenges of getting the state economy back on track,” said Raymond Torto, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors.
The index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 came in February 2009.