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Massachusetts business confidence surges

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Business confidence in Massachusetts rose into positive territory for the first time in more than two years, according to a recent report from the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

The AIM Business Confidence Index rose four points to 51.5 last month. The index had been below 50 – its neutral point – since April 2008, and the 51.5 mark is the highest since the end of 2007.

Officials said that the biggest changes were seen in responses from small business owners, who were particularly hard-hit during the recession.

“Economists tell us that small businesses are the first to start hiring in a recovery, so this is very good news,” the state’s secretary of housing and economic development, Greg Bialecki, told the Boston Globe.

Bloomberg says that since dropping to an all-time low of 33.3 last February, the Index has risen 13 times over the past 15 months.

The rise in business confidence is also reflected in business incorporation and hiring rates. State officials say that employers in Massachusetts added more than 19,000 jobs in April and that new business formation has remained strong.