SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank

February 04, 2014 08:00 ET

BMO Economics: Missouri Economy Growing at Moderate Pace, but Picture Still Mixed

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - Feb 4, 2014) -

  • Jobless rate falling with significant gains in manufacturing, transportation and retail
  • Auto sector investment continues to fuel industry
  • Housing recovery picking up after relatively moderate downturn

Missouri's economic growth continues at a moderate pace, according to the bi-annual U.S. State Monitor Report from BMO Economics.

Real GDP likely grew 1.9 percent in 2013, and the Missouri economy is expected to remain relatively steady in 2014 with growth of 2.0 percent.

"We continue to see more and more businesses beginning to expand and look for new opportunities as we see the economy picking up," said David Warning, Managing Director, Commercial Banking, St. Louis, BMO Harris Bank. "The current gains businesses in the state are making are laying an important foundation for the future of our economy."

Nonfarm payrolls were up 1.3 percent in December over the previous year, just off the strongest pace in six and a half years. While still soft, manufacturing employment rose for the third straight year in 2013 and construction jobs were increasing at a good pace overall last year.

"Job growth has gathered momentum across several industries," said Robert Kavcic, Senior Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "In addition to increases in manufacturing and construction, there have been strong gains in transportation and retail, and record employment levels in professional services and finance. The latter has been especially impressive, adding almost 6,000 jobs in 2013."

Strong job growth has pulled the unemployment rate down to 5.9 percent, the lowest level since late 2008.

"In terms of housing, the market in Missouri was much better behaved during the housing bubble and, as a result, the downturn was far less severe. Still, prices have been slow to recover," noted Mr. Kavcic. 

Housing starts have gathered momentum; but at 12,200 annualized units through November, they are on pace for only modest growth compared to 2012.

Repercussions in the agriculture industry from the 2012 drought are still being felt in Missouri, according to the report. "The ag sector has been on a rollercoaster ride in recent years, with the worst drought in about half a century crippling output in 2012. Expectations were high for a significant rebound in 2013 and, while better than the prior year's severe conditions, the environment was still mixed," stated Mr. Kavcic.

Manufacturing has seen some positive recent announcements recently with Ford expanding in Kansas City and General Motors increasing investment at its Fairfax plant. The State has also extended $1.7 billion in tax credits to Boeing in a bid to secure the production of the next generation of its 777 jetliner.

To view a full copy of the report, visit www.bmocm.com/economics.

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and are subject to bank or credit approval. BMO Harris Bank® is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and CDN $537 billion in assets (as of October 31, 2013).

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