BUSINESS BRIEFS: Slipping Biz Confidence, Waters GTXResolve, and more


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Business Confidence Slips Again

Business confidence fell slightly in Massachusetts last month as employers found themselves squeezed by rising costs, shrinking profits and a slowing economy. The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) lost 0.3 point to 51.9 in April, its second consecutive monthly decline. The reading remained marginally within optimistic territory and was 0.8 point higher than it was in April 2023.

Survey participants cited concerns about high interest rates, rising labor costs, inflation and softening demand as the national economy slowed to a 1.6 percent annualized growth rate in the first quarter. Inflation remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2.0 percent annual target and the Fed last week suggested that bringing down inflation would “take longer than previously expected.”

“Employers and consumers alike are experiencing persistent inflation and slowing economic activity, leading to increased caution. The good news is that real private consumption and investment have continued to rise, while the job market has come into better balance,” said Sara Johnson, Chair of the AIM Board of Economic Advisors.

The AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 140 Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

Employers who took part in the April survey expressed concern about the overall economy and their own business prospects.

“Labor costs, material costs, and energy costs are all up and, while our competitors are also seeing higher materials costs, our labor and energy costs are typically higher due to the state we live in. We rarely can pass those costs on to our customers without losing market share,” wrote one company.

Waters has New GTxResolve Columns

Waters Corporation (NYSE:WAT) of Milford  has introduced new GTxResolve Premier Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC) 1000Å 3-micron (3 µm) Columns. Waters has implemented a unique combination of novel packing materials and MaxPeak™ Premier High-Performance Surface (HPS) technology into the columns to help scientists accelerate the development of gene-based therapeutics, including cell & gene, mRNA and LNPs.

Waters GTxResolve Premier SEC Columns support the growing demand for mRNA, LNP, and viral-vector-based therapies.

"The pipeline of nucleic acid therapeutics continues to grow at a double-digit paceii as developers strive to submit new investigational drug filings and complete their first in-human trials. The new Waters GTxResolve Premier SEC Columns supports the growing demand for mRNA, lipid nanoparticle, and viral vector-based therapies with columns that are more robust and provide higher efficiency," said Erin Chambers, Vice President, Consumables and Lab Automation, Waters Corporation. "These SEC columns help to standardize measurements needed to fulfill biological license applications, achieve accelerated approvals, and establish effective release testing strategies."

New Data Sharing to Fight Unemployment Fraud

The U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury today announced a new data-sharing partnership, the latest effort to support a multi-layered approach to fraud prevention by providing states with controls, tools and strategies to identify and combat unemployment insurance fraud.

The data-sharing partnership provides state unemployment agencies with access to Do Not Pay Working System data sources and services through the UI Integrity Data Hub. Maintained by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies’ UI Integrity Center, the hub is a centralized, multistate data-matching system used by state unemployment agencies to aid fraud prevention and improper payment reduction efforts.

Administered by the Office of Management and Budget and operated by Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Office of Payment Integrity, the Do Not Pay Working System provides a no-cost service for federal agencies and federally funded state-administered programs to verify claim eligibility and prevent fraud and improper payments.

Mass DOR Finally Has a Good Month

Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder today announced that preliminary revenue collections for April totaled $6.324 billion, $1.540 billion or 32.2% more than actual collections in April 2023, and $1.034 billion or 19.5% above benchmark.[1]

FY2024 year-to-date collections totaled approximately $33.857 billion, which is $1.537 billion or 4.8% more than collections in the same period of FY2023, and $889 million or 2.7% more than the year-to-date benchmark.

“April collections increased in non-withheld income tax, income tax withholding, and sales tax in comparison to April 2023,” said Commissioner Snyder. “These increases were partially offset by decreases in corporate and business tax and ‘all other’ tax. The increase in non-withheld income tax was likely due, in large part, to the 4% income tax levied on annual taxable income in excess of $1,000,000 (4% income surtax)[2]. The increases in income tax withholding and sales tax were due, in part, to typical timing factors in collections. The decrease in corporate and business tax was due to a decrease in return payments and an unfavorable increase in refunds, partially offset by an increase in estimated payments. The decrease in ‘all other’ tax is mostly attributable to a decrease in estate tax, a category that tends to fluctuate.”

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