This North American region has the third largest economy in the world

One single region is the vital driver behind North America’s economic output, employment and trade, according to a new report, and housing needs in the area are reflecting this.

The BMO report says that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region would be the third largest economy in the world, if it were its own country.

"The region also plays an extremely important role within the broad North American labour market, supporting nearly 47 million jobs in 2014," said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at BMO and author of the report. "That represents almost 30 per cent of the combined Canadian and U.S. workforce."

The housing market in this region, particularly in the U.S. Midwest, continues to recover, and Kavcic expects continued gains due to healthy job growth and some easing in credit conditions.

As for the Canadian side of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, the report said Toronto's housing market continues to set record price levels and conditions in Southwestern Ontario have firmed, though Quebec remains relatively subdued.

"For consumers across the region, the steep decline in oil prices is a positive, while employment growth has accelerated in five straight years through 2014," added Kavcic.

And a heavy dose of infrastructure investment should only build on the draw of this area. Between 2009 and 2013, $1.8 billion was spent on port, terminal and waterway infrastructure, according to a survey commissioned by the Chamber of Marine Commerce and other industry groups.

Looking ahead, said the BMO report, a further $1.1 billion is committed from 2014 to 2018 through a combination of public- and private-sector investments.
"There’s little questioning the importance of the Great Lakes region to North American economic output, employment and trade, and the current outlook remains positive for the region," said Kavcic.

"Measures by policymakers to improve trade flows and foster overall growth, plus contributions from the private sector, are key for the long-term health of the broader North American economy."

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