Sturdy Service Sector Helping to Offset Manufacturing Weakness in Ontario, Says BMO Economics



    Province's unemployment rate higher than the rest of Canada for first
    time on record

    TORONTO, Feb. 15 /CNW/ - A sturdy service sector is helping to buffer
Ontario's economy during a challenging period for Canada's largest province,
according to a provincial economics report from BMO Financial Group.
    "Beneath the surface lies a great disparity between the crippled
manufacturing and sturdy services sectors," says Doug Porter, Deputy Chief
Economist, BMO Capital Markets. "A rising employment share in the services
sector has helped to lower the province's correlation with U.S. growth in
recent years."
    Mr. Porter notes that the Ontario economy is struggling against the
backdrop of a strong Canadian dollar, high energy costs, and a likely U.S.
recession. "Ontario has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of Canada for
the first time on record, while Toronto's jobless rate has been higher than
St. John's, Newfoundland, although now it's slightly lower again."
    While commercial office properties are still sprouting, residential
construction activity is cooling with a moderate slow down expected for
Ontario's housing market in 2008 following a strong performance.

    
    Highlights of the report include:

    -   GDP growth likely remained at 2.1 per cent in 2007, but as the U.S.
        economy sputters, growth should fall to 0.9 per cent.
    -   The jobless rate crossed above the national average for the first
        time on record last year, and should slacken further in 2008.
    -   The manufacturing sector shed 55,000 jobs last year, while the
        service sector added 146,000
    -   Program spending by the provincial government is expected to jump
        6.3 per cent this year.

    The complete report can be found at www.bmocm.com/economics.
    





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Paul Gammal, Toronto,
paul.gammal@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996, Internet: www.bmo.com


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