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Flash Index of Illinois economy at highest reading in more than six years

J. Fred Giertz, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, 217-244-4822
Mark Reutter, Business Editor, News Bureau 217-333-0568

5/2/2005

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 Illinois economy.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index surged a full point last month to reach 105.2. This was the highest reading since August 1998 when the Flash Index stood at 105.3.

“Just when the national economy seems to be slowing, the Illinois economy appears to be accelerating,” said J. Fred Giertz, the University of Illinois economist who prepared the Flash data. The dividing line between economic expansion and contract is 100.

Illinois experienced a slow recovery from the 2001 recession, lagging behind the rest of the country in both income and employment growth.

The Index remained below 100 from the spring of 2001 through the first quarter of 2004. “The results of the last few months suggest that the state is catching up with the national economy,” Giertz said.

For April, all three components of the Flash were up in “real” (inflation-adjusted) terms from the same month of last year. The performance of individual income-tax receipts was especially impressive. With receipts of more that $1 billion, April was the second highest month on record, exceeded only by April 2001.

“The surge was the result of state taxpayers making much higher final payments when they filed income returns this year and also was a reflection of capital gains in the stock market,” Giertz said.

The U. of I. 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 April 30.


line chart showing upward trend of economic growth