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Massachusetts economic growth lags nation in the first part of the year

The Massachusetts economy lost steam in the first three months of this year, lagging behind the nation as a whole, the University of Massachusetts reported Friday

The state’s economy shrunk by 0.5 percent since the start of 2017, as wages and salaries of workers stalled, according to the UMass economic journal, MassBenchmarks.

This marked the second consecutive quarter that the Massachusetts economy grew more slowly than the nation’s. The federal government reported that the US economy expanded by a weak 0.7 percent during the first few months of Donald Trump’s presidency. But economists warned that the paltry growth may be due to a persistent measurement error that has made it difficult for the government to measure first quarter economic performance for the past few years.

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Massachusetts is likely to see stronger, though not robust, growth through the rest of the year, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economics professor at Northeastern University.

“It’s temporary,” Clayton-Matthews said. “I would expect the pace to pick up.”

In Massachusetts, the last and first quarter of a year may be more volatile due to fluctuations in company bonuses, especially in sectors such as financial services, Clayton-Matthew said.

A bad bonus season may be weighing down the state’s economy, he said.

Through most of the recovery, the state’s economy has been lifted by the thriving health care, education, and technology sectors.

Still, even with unemployment at a low 3.6 percent and business and consumer confidence at high levels, the state’s economy is likely to grow at a sluggish pace for the rest the year, he said.

Wages will remain weak and productivity levels for the nation and the state remain puzzlingly low, he said.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.