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UI Flash Economic Index jumped to its highest level since August

Mark Reutter, Business Editor
(217) 333-0568;


EDITORS, NEWS DIRECTORS: The Flash Index of Economic Growth, produced by economists at the University of Illinois, is based on the most up-to-date information on the state economy.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index jumped last month to its highest level since August.

The March reading of 102.9, up from 102.5 in February and 102.1 in December, suggests that the state's economy has picked up steam in the first quarter of 2000 after a relatively slow period of growth since the third quarter of 1999.

"Illinois's performance is consistent with the continued strength of the national economy," said J. Fred Giertz, an economist at the UI Institute of Government and Public Affairs, who released the March Flash reading today (April 3).

High corporate tax receipts propelled last month's growth. Giertz said that part of the increase was due to a one-time tax payment by Commonwealth Edison in connection with the sale of some of its coal-fired power plants.

"Even after adjusting for this event, corporate receipts were still above the rate of growth of a year ago for March," Giertz said.

Overall, however, the state economy had a higher growth rate of 104.3 in March a year ago

. The Flash Index is a weighted average of growth rates in consumer spending, personal income and corporate earnings. Tax receipts are adjusted for inflation before growth rates are calculated. The growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through March 31.

Any reading above 100 means the state economy is expanding, while any number below 100 means the economy is shrinking.