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Minnesota Economy Continues Modest Growth

Employment Growth Steady

- Manufacturing, Key Driver in State's Recovery, Starting to Moderate

- Export Growth Moderating

- Home Prices Continue To Fall



MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA--(Marketwire - June 18, 2012) - The Minnesota economy continues to grow at a modest pace, according to the State Monitor Report released today by BMO Capital Markets Economics.

Minnesota's jobless rate continues to fall, hitting 5.6 percent in April. However, like most Midwest states, the downward drift is in part due to falling labor force participation, which nationally is at its lowest since 1983.

"Every day, we hear from our commercial customers that they are optimistic about the economic picture in Minnesota," said Todd Senger, Senior Vice President Commercial Banking for M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. "With our local expertise, sector knowledge and mid-market focus we stand ready to help them find solutions as they invest and upgrade their businesses."

Manufacturing has been a key driver of the economic recovery in Minnesota, but risks are now evident given the recession in Europe and slowdown in Asia. Export growth has cooled to a modest 2.4 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2012 after growth of about 20 percent in late 2012 and early 2011.

Housing in the Twin Cities is mixed. Said Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, BMO Financial Group, "While there are encouraging signs that housing market fundamentals are gradually improving, home prices and construction activity remain depressed. The months' supply of homes for sale in the Twin Cities has fallen, but the foreclosure rate, while falling, remains well above pre-recession levels. As a result, home prices continue to weaken."

Industrial availability in Minneapolis-St. Paul set well below the national average at 10.9 percent in the first quarter and continues to drift lower. The office vacancy rate, however, remains an above-average 19.7 percent.

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 Financial Group

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 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.

Media Contact:
Beth Copeland
(317) 269-1395
beth.copeland@micorp.com