CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois Flash Economic Index continued its recent climb in the first month of 2004, rising to 98.5 in January, up from 98.0 in December.
The Index has increased steadily since September when it stood at 96.2. It is up from 95.7 in January a year ago and 94.2 in May 2002, the lowest point of a downturn that started three years ago in March 2001.
Last month's results indicate that the state economy may be within striking distance of the 100 level of the Index, which separates economic growth from contraction, said J. Fred Giertz, the University of Illinois economist who compiled the data.
Corporate income tax receipts were strong in January, and sales-tax receipts recorded a small gain compared with the same month a year ago. Personal income tax was the weakest of the components, "possibly reflecting the slow growth of employment during the recovery of the last four months," Giertz said.
The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income. Tax receipts from corporate income, individual 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 Jan. 31.