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'Modest slowdown' revealed in latest Flash Economic Index

Mark Reutter, Business Editor (217) 333-0568; mreutter@illinois.edu

J. Fred Giertz, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, (217) 244-4822

9/5/2000

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 growth rate of the University of Illinois Flash Economic Index dropped slightly last month, giving further evidence of a modest slowdown in the Illinois economy, possibly the long awaited "soft landing."

The August reading was 102.3, down 0.3 from July. The Index has declined slightly each of the last three months from its recent high of 103.2 in April and May. The Index stood at 103.1 in August one year ago.

As has been the case in recent months, both sales tax and individual income tax receipts -- measuring consumer spending -- were up for August compared with the same month a year ago, while corporate tax receipts declined in "real" (inflation-adjusted) terms.

"The results of the Index do not suggest any serious weakening of the state economy, only a reduction in the high rates of growth of the past few years," said J. Fred Giertz, a UI economist who released the Flash reading today (Sept. 5).

Mirroring the national economy as a whole, Illinois is halfway through its 10th year of uninterrupted expansion, the longest boom in history.

The Flash Index is a weighted average of growth rates in sales-tax receipts, individual income-tax receipts and corporate-earning receipts in Illinois. The 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 Aug. 31. Any reading above 100 means the state economy is expanding, while any number below 100 means the economy is shrinking.