April 25. 2014 10:00AM - Last modified: April 25. 2014 10:24AM

BMO report: Wisconsin economy gathers steam

  
After a moderate expansion in 2013, the pace of Wisconsin’s economic recovery is picking up in 2014, according to a special report released today by BMO Economics on the economic output from the Great Lakes region.


The report, “North America’s Economic Engine,” was released to coincide with the Council of Great Lakes Governors meeting, taking place in Chicago this weekend, 2014.

The report notes that the region is a major driver of North American economic output, employment and trade, accounting for nearly a third of combined Canadian and U.S. output, jobs and exports.

“The Great Lakes region has so much going for itself with transportation infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, research and development, digital manufacturing, strong locally-rooted financial institutions, and some of the world’s best post-secondary institutions,” said ambassador David Jacobson, vice-chair, BMO Financial Group. “The discussions over the next two days in Chicago will allow us to explore opportunities to create jobs, strengthen trade, open doors to new discoveries, and drive innovation and prosperity for all in the region.”

According to the report, real gross domestic product (GDP) in Wisconsin will increase 2.3 percent in 2014 and rise 2.6 percent in 2015. This is up more than a full percentage point from the 1.2 percent growth rate in 2013, bolstered by firming factory activity and modest export growth.

“Improvement in business investment this year should help support modest gains in exports this year, and factory activity has come back from a soft patch a year ago,” said Michael Gregory, head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. “Wisconsin’s labor market has experienced notable gains, with nonfarm payrolls up 1.4 percent year-over-year in the three months through March, and manufacturing employment rebounding to the highest level since early 2009.”

Leisure and hospitality jobs have climbed 5 percent in the last year, and unemployment rate has fallen to 5.9 percent and is expected to stay below six percent for the remainder of the year.

The housing market in Wisconsin did not experience the same downturn as other harder-hit states during the recession. As a result, Wisconsin’s home prices are rising at a slower pace than in other markets. The state’s vacancy rate is 1.6 percent, and the months’ supply of homes for sale in Milwaukee is five – which is the lowest level since 2005.

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