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UI Flash Economic Index hits lowest level since 1992

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


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

3/1/2001

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 has hit its lowest level since 1992, giving fresh evidence that the state economy has virtually stopped growing.

The Index slid to 100.8 in February from an adjusted 101.2 in January and 101.8 in December. A year ago in February, the Index was 102.4.

"The state economy is approaching zero growth," said J. Fred Giertz, a UI economist who released the Flash Index today (March 1).

Giertz emphasized that the Illinois economy is not in a recession, but is not noticeably growing either. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters (six months) of decline in business activity.

Compared to a year ago, corporate tax receipts were up slightly in real (inflation-adjusted) terms, while sales-tax receipts and income -tax receipts were down.

On the brighter side, broad indexes of domestic purchases show that, despite the run-up of oil and gas prices in recent months, inflation nationwide is still under 2 percent.

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 growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through Feb. 28.

Any reading above 100 means the state economy is expanding, while any number below 100 indicates economic activity is declining.