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UI Flash Economic Index ended the year on a down note

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

1/3/2002

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 Illinois economy ended the year on a down note as the University of Illinois Economic Index fell to 97.8 in December from its 98.0 reading in November. Like the national economy, the state remains in a recession.

The Flash Index stood at 101.8 a year ago in December, but dropped below 100 (the dividing line between economic expansion and decline) in March 2001 for the first time in more than nine years and continued a slow decline throughout the year.

So far, however, the recession is modest by historical standards. The Flash Index in the recession of the early 1980s was 85.9, and 92.2 during the last recession in 1992. The state unemployment rate of 5.8 percent in November was up from its low of 4.1 percent in early 1999. But the unemployment rate reached a high of 12.9 percent in 1982 and 8.5 percent in 1991 during the previous two recessions.

"While there have been some isolated encouraging signs and there is hope among experts that the recession will end in the first half of 2002, the recovery is not now under way," said J. Fred Giertz, a UI economist who released the data today.

Income-tax receipts last month were up in "real" (inflation-adjusted) terms, while
sales-tax receipts were down slightly from the same month last year. Corporate tax receipts, the most volatile component of the Index, were down significantly.

The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income. Tax receipts from corporate income, personal income and retail sales 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 Dec. 31.

line chart showing downward trend