CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index increased half a point to 99.0 in February, within striking distance of the 100 level that indicates economic growth.
The index has moved up steadily in the last six months and is well above its low of 94.2 in May 2002, said J. Fred Giertz, the University of Illinois economist who compiles the data. A year ago in February, the Flash reading was 95.6.
Despite the election-generated talk about job losses, the number of those employed in Illinois has increased by nearly 100,000 workers from its low point of a year ago. Unemployment in Illinois in January fell to 6.2 percent from 6.7 percent in December. But the number employed is still well below the high-water mark reached in 2000. "This illustrates the slow recovery, especially in terms of jobs, which has followed the end of the 2001 recession," Giertz said.
All three components of the Flash Index were up modestly last month from the same month last year. The Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.
Tax receipts from these components are adjusted for inflation before growth rates are calculated. The growth rate is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through Feb. 29.