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Study examines Massachusetts export growth

The UMass Donahue Institute's Economic and Public Policy Research group published an analysis of Massachusetts' export growth, looking at recent trends in the state's exports to understand why they are not keeping up with the nation's. The state has failed to bounce back from the dramatic fall-off in international trade that hit both the state's and nation's exports in 2009.

U.S. exports have surged by nearly 50 percent since the 2009 low, but Massachusetts has seen growth of less than 14 percent. As of 2013, the state's exports still remained below the record high of $28.3 billion reached in 2008, placing the state at 49th among the 50 states in export growth.

"Massachusetts is neither a major producer nor exporter of the commodities driving much of the nation’s recent growth in international trade. One-third of US export growth since 2009 is in goods, such as fuels and motor vehicles, that are small contributors to the Massachusetts economy or largely related to global precious metals trading," noted Branner Stewart, Senior Research Manager at the UMass Donahue Institute and lead researcher for this exports analysis. "Yet, $3.9 billion out of our $8.5 billion trade growth gap is due to competitive factors and losing market share in exports to most major international markets."

"The relatively weak performance in Massachusetts export growth came during a period where the Commonwealth's economy generally recovered from the Great Recession at or above the pace of the national economy," said Daniel Hodge, Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. "Although additional research needs to be conducted, possible explanations for this discrepancy include Massachusetts firms shifting to more domestic trading partners, and a shift from export "products" to more services-oriented economic activity such as the boom in life sciences R&D activity and our growth in technology-driven services."

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