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New England Ranks Lowest In Nation In Job Growth



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New England Ranks Lowest In Nation In Job Growth

 By Mark Jewell

Associated Press

BOSTON  — New England gained jobs at a slower pace than any region in the nation in the fourth quarter of 2005, the federal government’s insurer of bank deposits said Tuesday.

New England fared better by some other measures, with rankings near the middle of the pack in unemployment and home price growth, according to a report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

But the region’s slide from eighth place to the ninth and final slot in jobs growth illustrated the slow pace of New England’s recovery from the 2001 recession.

“It’s certainly been a very slow recovery for New England over the last several years, and this new data is certainly consistent with that,” said Michael Goodman, a University of Massachusetts economist and president of the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit forecasting organization.

The FDIC said New England posted job growth at a rate of 0.54 percent in the final three months of 2005, compared with 0.59 percent for the next-slowest region, East North Central, encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The nation’s job growth rate was 1.44 percent, with the Mountain region posting the strongest performance at 4.08 percent.

New England fell to the bottom ranking in the fourth quarter, even though it gained jobs at a slightly faster rate than it had in the previous quarter. But the East North Central region showed stronger fourth-quarter improvement to move ahead of New England.

Ross Gittell, the New England Economic Partnership’s regional forecast manager and a University of New Hampshire economist, attributed New England’s poor fourth-quarter performance in part to heavy October rainfall that hurt fall foliage tourism, kept shoppers away from stores, and hampered construction projects.

Over the longer term, regional job growth has remained slow because southern New England’s high-technology employers are adding few jobs despite recent earnings gains and improving productivity, Goodman said.

Manufacturing job losses continue to hurt northern New England, he said, and all of New England has been hurt by slow population growth, or population declines in the cases of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Each of the region’s six states ranked near the bottom nationally in job growth during the October–December period, with New Hampshire faring best at 40th, followed by Vermont (41), Connecticut (42), Rhode Island (44), Massachusetts (45) and Maine (48).

New England had the sixth-lowest unemployment in the fourth quarter among nine regions nationwide, with a regional average rate of 4.67 percent, compared with 4.93 percent for the nation. Rhode Island had the region’s highest jobless rate at 5.1 percent, and New Hampshire the lowest at 3.5 percent.

New England had the fifth-fastest rate of home price growth, with price appreciation of 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter compared with 13 percent nationally. Vermont’s price appreciation was the region’s highest at 13.8 percent, compared with 8.2 percent for Massachusetts, the region’s lowest-ranking state.

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