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Flash Index indicates Illinois economy stuck in neutral

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

1/2/2003


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

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Illinois economy ended 2002 the same way it began – flat.
The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index was 95.4 in December, marginally above its November reading of 95.3 and marginally below its October reading of 95.6.

The monthly Index has remained between 95 and 97 for the entire year, consistently below the 100 dividing line between growth and contraction for the state economy. Last December, the Index ended 2001 at 97.8.

The readings reflect a national economy that continues to lack momentum despite interest-rate reductions and a modest stock-market rally in the fourth quarter. "The recession of 2001 was very mild, but the recovery in 2002 has proven to be slow and painful," said J. Fred Giertz, the Illinois economist who released the Flash reading today.

One hopeful sign in Illinois was that individual income-tax receipts were up last month compared with a year ago. Sales-tax receipts, despite a poor Christmas buying season, were virtually unchanged.

Corporate tax receipts, however, continue to lag in part because of large refunds and offsets against prior-year taxes. Corporations are allowed to carry forward losses from previous years to offset current-year taxes.

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 growth leveling