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MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS SAY THEY'LL BE THE FIRST OUT OF NEW ENGLAND RECESSION

 MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS SAY THEY'LL BE THE FIRST OUT
 OF NEW ENGLAND RECESSION
 BOSTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Fully 94 percent of Massachusetts residents believe their state is in recession, and 75 percent expect the recession to last at least a year or more. According to the Fleet New England poll, first in a series of "people's polls" on the state of region's economy by Fleet Financial Group, Inc., the majority of those surveyed believe we have either reached the bottom (31 percent) or are in recovery (32 percent).
 The poll also indicates 44 percent of Massachusetts residents believe that their state is worse off than most of the rest of the country. Forty-seven percent of those in Eastern Massachusetts (57 percent in Western Mass.) believe that, of all New England states, Massachusetts has been hardest hit by the recession. Massachusetts was, in fact, the state cited by the largest number of New Englanders as the hardest hit by the recession. Nonetheless, 32 percent of those polled expected Massachusetts to improve most quickly -- a sentiment mirrored throughout the New England.
 "The spate of summer layoffs, coming after indications of recovery, threw some people into a confidence tailspin," notes Leo R. Breitman, president and CEO, Fleet Bank of Massachusetts. "Still, the fact is that Massachusetts has already put in place many of the economic and government changes that we need to bring our economy back up to altitude. There will probably be more bumps ahead, but I believe we are looking at the beginning of a new future for Massachusetts. The key is for the people themselves to believe we are coming around. Increased consumer spending will give us the push the economy needs."
 Sixty percent of those polled in Eastern Massachusetts say the recession has affected them personally, and 29 percent claim to have lost jobs or income as a result (higher than Western Massachusetts' 26 percent). Sixty-four percent in Eastern Massachusetts have cut back on personal spending, while 29 percent have kept it about the same. Areas of cutbacks varied strongly from east to west. Eastern Massachusetts residents cut back most strongly in "going out" (27 percent), "clothing" (22 percent), "cars/appliances" (19 percent), and "vacations" (15 percent). Western Massachusetts reported major cuts in "vacations" (29 percent), "going out" (24 percent), and "clothing" (15 percent).
 The most popular federal economic solution cited by respondents was a $5,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, with 83 percent indicating it would help end the recession (41 percent felt it would help "a great deal"). Running close behind was the establishment of government-sponsored work projects, like the depression-era's Work Progress Administration. This strategy was cited by 80 percent of those polled as a means to help end the recession, with 33 percent indicating it would help a great deal.
 Eighty percent believed giving businesses and investment tax credit for expansions would help end the recession, and 39 percent felt it would help a great deal. Cutting the capital gains tax from 28 percent to 15 percent was mentioned by 70 percent as a means of helping end the recession, and 33 percent felt it would help a great deal.
 Respondents thought tax increases on upper incomes and a $500 tax credit to the middle class could be helpful in ending the recession. The increased tax on incomes over $85,000 per year was mentioned by 73 percent as a means of helping end the recession, and 36 percent felt it would help a great deal. The middle class tax credit was the least favored concept, with 62 percent believing it would help end the recession, and only 14 percent believing it would help a great deal.
 The greatest causes of problems in Massachusetts, say its eastern residents, are taxes (25 percent), labor costs (20 percent), defense cuts (18 percent), real estate devaluations (16 percent) and workers without the skills to handle today's jobs (12 percent). Western residents were more concerned about taxes (39 percent), and less concerned about the drop in real estate values (6 percent). Both halves of the state believe Massachusetts should try to attract more manufacturing firms and technology companies, but differ in which is more important. Western Massachusetts residents prefer manufacturing (44 percent to 31 percent), while Eastern Massachusetts residents are the opposite (44 percent favor high-tech vs. 30 percent for manufacturing).
 "New Englanders are beginning to understand that we need businesses that not only create jobs, but that ship products out of the region and bring dollars in -- something that manufacturing jobs do best," says Fleet Financial Group's chief economist, Gary Ciminero. "A service economy generates scant exports and tends to feed on itself, rather than attracting demand and capital from outside the region. The fact that the overwhelming majority of those we polled recognize the importance of bringing in manufacturing and technology firms demonstrates something a lot of people have suspected all along: Main Street is often smarter than Wall Street."
 Other poll findings include:
 -- Given the choice, more Massachusetts residents (50 percent) favor
 an economic plan that features across-the-board tax cuts so long
 as comparable spending cuts are included. Forty percent prefer
 a plan to fund domestic programs by increasing taxes on those
 making more than $85,000 per year.
 -- The greatest number of Massachusetts residents (39 percent)
 believe Bill Clinton will do more for the economy. George Bush
 only received 16 percent of the vote. A significantly large
 35 percent believed neither would do much for the economy.
 -- Seventy-two percent of those questioned are satisfied with their
 present job and career opportunities. Almost four in 10 felt the
 economy had limited their choices or kept them in a job for which
 they were overqualified. One-third put in more than 49 hours per
 week, and nearly one-third of those working more hours are doing
 so because their companies have cut staff and are "doing more
 with less."
 "This poll shows that despite enduring the difficulty of an 'on- again, off-again' recession, the people of Massachusetts have maintained a core of optimism," notes Breitman. "There is definitely a long road ahead, as they have noted. But with continued development efforts on the part of the business community and federal and state governments, we will capitalize on our well-educated workforce and strong record in electronics, and restore our position in the global economy."
 The Fleet New England Poll was conducted via telephone from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, 1992, by national polling firm Penn & Schoen Associates on behalf of Fleet Financial Group. The random sample was comprised of approximately 1,450 New England residents. A similar poll is conducted in New York State.
 Fleet Financial Group operates eight banks in New England and New York, including Fleet Bank of Massachusetts. Fleet Bank of Massachusetts has assets exceeding $8 billion and 150 offices throughout the state. Fleet Financial Group (Providence) is a $45-billion diversified financial services company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FLT), with approximately 1,300 offices nationwide. Fleet's lines of business include commercial and consumer banking, mortgage banking, consumer finance, asset-based lending, investment management and student loan processing.
 -0- 9/23/92
 /CONTACT: Robert W. Lougee, Jr., director of corporate communications, 401-278-5879; Thomas Lavelle, 401-278-3003, both of Fleet Financial Group; or Meg Pier of Fleet Bank of Mass., 617-573-7733/
 (FLT) CO: Fleet Bank of Massachusetts; Fleet Financial Group ST: Massachusetts, Rhode Island IN: FIN SU:


TM -- NE002 -- 2459 09/23/92 08:01 EDT
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Date:Sep 23, 1992
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