Auto industry strength boosts Indiana’s outlook

Economists at BMO Harris Bank are projecting “above average” growth for Indiana this year, citing a stronger auto sector and a healthier housing outlook.

“A resurgent auto sector has clearly helped,” said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

He pointed to growth including Toyota Motor Corp.’s plans for 600 new jobs downstate for increased sport utility production.

“Even growth in the service sector, particularly in transportation and warehousing, is likely auto related,” Kavcic added.

He also cited nonfarm payroll in Indiana that is now back to pre-recession levels. “This is a rare feat in this manufacturing-heavy region of the country.”

The Canadian bank said real GDP should expand 2.9 percent this year, after growing a projected 2.8 percent in 2013.

“While we have not been immune to the difficulties of the recession, we are enjoying a resurgence that bodes well for future business growth and continued economic improvement,” added Tim Massey, regional president of BMO Harris Bank in Indiana.

The states with the hottest growth so far are North Dakota and South Dakota, thanks to an oil boom.

Indiana sits at No. 27, while neighboring Ohio and Illinois ranked near the bottom in the bank’s performance summary. Kentucky was at rock-bottom, in 50th place.

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