Mass. employers riding confidence wave into spring

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Confidence among Massachusetts employers continued to build in February, and has risen in seven of the last nine months.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ business confidence index gained 4 points last month. At 56.4, it is up 18 points from its April 2020 pandemic low point and 5.7 points below its pre-pandemic reading in February 2020. Readings above 50 are considered positive.

Also, the seven constituent indicators that make up the overall index were all higher for the second consecutive month in February, and each indicator is now above 50 and in positive territory for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

The latest index results, which are based on a survey of more than 140 employers, landed as Massachusetts gears up to receive its share of a massive $1.9 trillion that appears destined for President Joe Biden’s desk after clearing the U.S. Senate over the weekend. AIM is asking employers “to alter their policies to help women and other caregivers remain on the job during the pandemic,” recommending pay increases and other advancement steps to keep women/caregivers on schedule rather than penalizing those who have been on leave or working limited hours.

Another AIM recommendation: extending the time workers can be on leave. The percentage of women participating in the U.S. labor market in October 2020 was the lowest since 1988, AIM said, and of the 9.8 million jobs that have not yet returned, 55 percent belong to women. “In one year, COVID-19 wiped out a generation of progress and put the precariousness of being a woman in the modern American workplace into stark perspective,” President and CEO John Regan said.

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