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 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 recent Council of Great Lakes Governors meeting in Chicago.

“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 in Wisconsin will increase 2.3 percent in 2014 and rise another 2.6 percent in 2015. This is more than double 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 past year, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.9 percent.

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