Boston — New England, hard hit during the 1974-75 recession, may fare among the best during the 1980 economic slowdown. The region's unemployment in February, the latest month for which figures are available, was 6.1 percent (excluding New Hampshire), compared to 6.8 percent nationally -- unadjusted.
Economist say New England learned the lessons of conserving energy and making business as "recession proof" as possible during the early 1970s.
And now, they say, those lessons are paying off.
In addition, President Carter's push for a 3 percent annual increase in defense spending is a cause of optimism. That increase is expected benefit Massachusetts and Connecticut, where several defense contractors and subcontractors are based.
The high-technology industry in New England is expected to generate 64,000 to 124,000 jobs through 1982, according to a study by Technical Marketing Associates, a Concord, Mass., research firm
The region's university-based researched establishment, as well as new government and private efforts to revitalize New England's cities, also have generated both-short-and long term jobs.
Except for Connecticut, says First National Bank of Boston economist James M. Howell, New England is relatively unaffected by dips in the business cycle. Moreover, the region has little involvement with the automobile industry, one of the first to bear the brunt of a recession.
MoreoveR, New England learned to conserve energy during the mid-'70s, and some economists say businessmen are more concerned now about supplies than prices.
A change in attitude on the part of public officials also is improving the New England business scene. The nine Northeastern governors -- including those of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, as well as the New England states -- all are pushing a strong pro-business, pro-jobs-growth line.