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Illinois Economy Continues to Expand at Moderate Pace-BMO Economics

- Manufacturing recovery progressing

- Exports reach record high

- Job growth positive in recent months



CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--(Marketwire - June 18, 2012) - The Illinois economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, and has picked up some momentum supported in part by firm manufacturing and exports, according to the State Monitor report released by BMO Capital Markets Economics.

The business sector remains firmly in expansion territory. Exports continue to rise at a brisk pace, hitting a record high in the first quarter helped by a weak U.S. dollar and firm global demand, and manufacturing remains firm.

"Our commercial customers continue to express optimism in a business-led recovery here in Illinois," said Dave Casper, Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking, BMO Harris Bank. "Our local expertise, sector knowledge and mid-market focus are real advantages to helping our customers find solutions as they invest and upgrade their businesses."

Job growth in Illinois has been slow but positive in recent months, with nonfarm payrolls just 0.5 percent above year-ago levels in April. While the pace of government-sector layoffs has subsided somewhat in recent months, the sector continues to be a challenge for the state. Construction employment also remains weak, down 4.3 percent year-over-year. However, manufacturing jobs are up a firm 2.8 percent year-over-year, as capital equipment makers benefit from expanding exports. Illinois' jobless rate has fallen to 8.7% from a recent high above 10% in late 2011.

"The Illinois housing market has begun to stabilize, but prices remain under pressure," said Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group. "The foreclosure rate sat at a still-high 7.5% in the first quarter though new home foreclosures have stabilized and industrial and office availability rates have been trending gradually lower over the past year."

BMO Financial Group announced in 2011 that the company is making an additional $5 billion in business credit available to support the U.S. business-led recovery.

The full State Monitor report can be downloaded at www.bmocm.com/economics.

About BMO Harris Bank

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 650 branches and approximately 1,350 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, 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. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

BMO Harris Bank is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Banking deposit and loan products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. Brokerage products are offered through Harris Investor Services, Inc. (HIS), a registered broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC, and SEC-registered investment advisor. Insurance products are offered through Harris Bancorp Insurance Services, Inc. (HBIS). Investment banking services are provided by BMO Capital Markets Corp. (BMOCMC) and BMO Capital Markets GKST, Inc. (GKST), a Municipal Bond Dealer and member FINRA and SIPC. Financial planning and investment advisory services are provided by Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney, Inc. (Harris SBSB), an SEC registered investment advisor. Family Office Services are provided by Harris myCFO, Inc. Investment advisory services are offered by Harris myCFO Investment Advisory Services LLC (Harris myCFO), an SEC-registered investment advisor and wholly-owned subsidiary of Harris myCFO, Inc. Stoker Ostler Wealth Advisors (Stoker Ostler) is an SEC-registered investment advisor. Investment advisory services to institutional clients are provided by Harris Investment Management (HIM) or its wholly-owned subsidiary HIM Monegy (Monegy), SEC-registered investment advisors. Products offered by HIS, HBIS, BMOCM, Harris SBSB, Harris myCFO, Stoker Ostler, HIM, and Monegy, which are affiliated companies and wholly owned subsidiaries of BMO Financial Corp.,: Are not insured by the FDIC or any Federal Government Agency, not a deposit of or guaranteed by any Bank or Bank Affiliate, may lose value. The purchase of insurance or an annuity is not a condition to any bank loan or service. Not all products and services are offered in every state and/or location.

Vanessa Hall
(312) 461-6543
Vanessa1.Hall@harrisbank.com