A key indicator of economic activity in Illinois continues to show slow but steady improvement in the state. The UI Flash Index climbed to 96.6 in April, up three-tenths of a point from the previous month.
The index moved upward for the 12th time in 13 months, but remains well below 100, which marks the division between economic decline and economic growth. The low point for the index in the recent downturn was 90.0 in September 2009. However, the index remains well below its pre-recession high of 107.4, set in April 2007.
"This pattern of slow growth in Illinois is consistent with the recently announced 1.8 percent growth rate in the national Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2011 and the slow rate of decrease of the unemployment rate for the state and nation," said UI economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the flash Index for the university's Institute of Government and Public Affairs. "The economic expansion remains sluggish by comparison to other recoveries, but at least the signs are positive."
The unemployment rate in Illinois continued to fall in April, dropping for the 14th consecutive month, to 8.8 percent.
Sales tax receipts for the month were up slightly in real terms from the same month last year, Giertz said. After adjusting for the rate increase approved in January, both individual income tax and corporate receipts were down from the same month last year.
"April is a strong month for individual income receipts because of final payments that accompany tax filings," Giertz said. "Since the final payments were based on 2010 rates and not the current rates, collections were not particularly strong in April."
The index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.