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UI Flash Economic Index surprisingly rose last month


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


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

11/1/2001

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. — Surprisingly, the University of Illinois Flash Economic Index rose slightly in October to 98.4 from 98.2 in September. (See chart below.)

Even though the October reading is low, the results can be viewed as good news indicating that the Illinois economy did not suffer a precipitous decline as a result of the September terrorist attacks and their aftermath. The October index is the first that includes a full month of post-Sept. 11 data.

Still, October was the sixth consecutive month of a sub-100 reading for the Flash Index, which indicates that the state economy is in decline. These results are consistent with national measures that suggest the economy is headed for at least a minor recession.

The national gross domestic product fell by 0.4 percent in the third quarter of the year. If, as seems likely, the fourth quarter shows another decline, the U.S. economy officially will be in recession.

"One reason the Flash Index did not decline last month was because the new data for October 2001 replaced weak data for October 2000 in the Index calculations," said J. Fred Giertz, the UI economist who calculates the data.

A year ago the Flash Index was 102.8. "Individual and corporate income tax collections were up slightly in real terms last month compared with October a year ago, while sales-tax receipts were down slightly," Giertz reported.

The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income. The growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through Oct. 31.

Graph showing Illinois Flash Index movement over time.