(DETROIT, MI) – BMO’s Chief Economist Doug Porter, speaking yesterday at the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Detroit, sees a bright future for the Great Lakes-St Lawrence economy. In fact, he expects it to accelerate this year after posting sturdy growth in recent years.
He based his prediction of a new report from BMO Economics entitled Driving North American Growth and Trade.
Porter said the, “… Great Lakes-St Lawrence region is a vital driver of North American economic output, jobs and exports. With economic output estimated at US$6 trillion in 2016, the region accounts for 30 per cent of combined Canadian and US economic activity and employment.”
According to Porter, manufacturing job losses have more than been made up with new government jobs in healthcare and education as well as professional services in the private sector.
“While manufacturing employment is down 15 per cent from pre-recession levels, education and healthcare (+21 per cent) and professional services (+16 per cent) have helped make up the shortfall. In fact, education, healthcare, and professional services alone have added 2.5 million jobs over the last 10 years, dwarfing the near 1 million manufacturing job losses.”
Growth in Ontario is expected to reach close to 2.6 per cent, topping the national average on a sustained basis for the first time in more than a decade. Trade within the Great Lakes region is relatively balanced, with Ontario and Quebec running a modest surplus with the US states.
“The North American Free Trade Agreement has certainly helped to spur the trade relationship in the region, and recent policy rhetoric is concerning given how integrated the supply chain has become,” Porter said. “Measures by policymakers to maintain the trade relationship and further facilitate the flow of goods in the region would be a clear positive for economies on both sides of the border.”
US President Donald Trump is expected to remove the US from NAFTA. While Porter admitted the rhetoric is concerning he did not offer predictions of what impact Trump’s move will have on his bank’s figures.