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Tighe & Bond Publishes 2012 Water, Sewer Rates
WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond recently published the results of its 2012 water and sewer rate surveys for communities in Massachusetts. The results from these latest surveys indicate that residential users in Massachusetts pay approximately $498 and $646 annually for water and sewer, respectively. This represents increases of 6% and 8.2% above the 2010 averages. For more than a decade, Tighe & Bond has gathered and reported data on water and sewer rates service in Massachusetts. Using rate information that survey participants provide, we have calculated the annual average homeowner’s cost for water and sewer service based on the consumption of 90,000 gallons or 120 hundred cubic feet of water. The survey, which includes typical annual homeowner water costs for each community in Massachusetts, also provides information regarding rate structures and billing cycles. Tighe & Bond’s water and sewer rate surveys offer municipalities and private suppliers a benchmarking tool for comparing their rates against other suppliers in the state. This can be particularly useful information when suppliers are considering adjustments to their current rates or rate structures.  The survey results are available to the public online at Founded in 1911, Tighe & Bond provides engineering and environmental services for clients in the government, industry, healthcare, education, real-estate, energy, and water/wastewater markets.

Massachusetts Economy Expected to Keep Growing
BOSTON — The Massachusetts economy is expected to grow slowly before accelerating in early 2014, benefiting from a boost in manufacturing, according to an economic forecast issued by a group of regional economists. According to the Boston Globe, although Massachusetts is in the midst of a slowdown in hiring, the five-year forecast by the New England Economic Partnership shows the state’s economy adding jobs at a significant pace beginning next year. Employers are expected to add about 30,000 jobs this year, and more than double that number in 2015. The state’s unemployment rate, 6.4% in April, is expected to decline to 5.2% by the end of 2017, the report said. Consumer confidence is getting a boost from improvements in the job market, stock market, and housing market. On the latter front, Massachusetts home prices were up by 5.3% in February from a year earlier, while residential building permits increased 24%. The forecast predicted continued improvement in housing and more jobs in construction. Manufacturing, which has experienced large job losses in recent decades, is expected to expand over the next few years because of global demand for advanced products made regionally, including medical devices, specialized materials, and semiconductors. Meanwhile, the report by the New England Economic Partnership raised questions about whether there will be enough skilled workers in the state to meet employers’ demands as Baby Boomers retire and leave the workforce. As many as 100,000 job vacancies in the manufacturing sector across New England will be created by retirements, the report said, but there may not be enough student interest in vocational education to fill those jobs or enough capacity in the educational system to train so many workers.

Unemployment Persists in Springfield, Regionwide
SPRINGFIELD — The city’s unemployment rate was 10.7% in April, the same as it was in March but higher than the 9.8% unemployment rate recorded a year ago. As a region, Greater Springfield had an unemployment rate of 7.5% in April, down from 8% in March, but again higher than the 7.2% rate recorded in April 2012, according to statistics from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to state employment numbers figured by using a survey of businesses, Greater Springfield added 5,200 jobs in from March to April. But the region is still down 2,200 jobs, or about 0.8%, on the year. Statewide, jobs are up 48,100 on the year for a 1.5% increase. The state added 45,200 jobs in April, an increase of about 1.4%. Statewide unemployment was 6.3 percent, unadjusted for seasonal changes in the state economy. Adjusted for seasonal changes, Massachusetts’ total unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.4%, lower than the national average of 7.5%. However, when people who have stopped looking for work and those working part-time who would rather be working full-time are added to the calculation, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate rises to an average of 12.8% over the last six months, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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