Ask people what they think about the economy these days and for the first time in a long time, there's hope.
John Keegan said Friday he's "feeling pretty optimistic." Retail worker Mari Scherer of Cambridge said "it's picking up every week." Thomas Demilia of Boston said the economy "seems to be on a positive trend."
That trend is backed up by strong numbers. Massachusetts' GDP rose at an 11.3% rate in the first quarter, more than double the rate of growth in the final quarter of 2020, according to MassBenchmarks.
"To watch that come back is really quite encouraging," Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy said.
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He credits the state's success to a few things: "Our economy is much more open than it was before. The vaccine roll out has been very successful. ... Our small businesses have benefited from a lot of support both from the federal government and the state government."
Economic analyst Jim Lowell said the situation "tells me that our economy is in recovery mode and it is in recovery mode at a faster rate than the national average is."
Lowell said he expects to see the state continue in growth mode for as long as vaccinations continue.
"And that's great news for those who are either currently unemployed or are looking to trade up," Lowell said.
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Trading up is what Jean Pierre Cross hopes to do. He lost his job at the start of the pandemic.
"I applied myself to reading, learning new skills, and I think a lot of people sort of kind of pivot," he said.
Demilia lost his job in the restaurant industry, "went back to school while I was laid off and started my own business online. I had to get creative," he said.
With 6.8% unemployment, there are still plenty of people looking for work.
"I still haven't gotten my job back," Jessica Torres said.
But most, like Elizabeth Martinez, agree the state is headed in the right direction.
"I got more hours at work. I'm earning more than I was before," she said.
What happens when the federal stimulus money runs out? The hope is that the massive infrastructure investments in the coming years will help with that recovery.