News Local/State

Flash Index Reports Jump In Economic Growth Rate

Graph showing recent Flash Index readings, including its September reading of 105.5.

A graph showing recent Flash Index measurements, up to its Sept. 2019 reading of 105.5. UI Institute of Govt. & Public Affairs

Illinois' economy showed an unexpected jump in September, according to the Flash Index, which moved from 105.1 in August to 105.5 in September.

The Flash Index has stayed above 100 since March 2012, a level that indicates economic growth. Lower numbers, such as those reported by the Flash Index from December 2008 to February 2012, indicate economic contraction.

Economist Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the University of Illinois's Institute of Government and Public Affairs from state tax receipts, says tax revenue was up in two of three categories.

“It was a very substantial increase, nine or ten percent, in both the individual income tax and the corporate tax, and just a very slight decrease, after adjusting for inflation, for sales taxes,” said Giertz.

But the Illinois economy usually mirrors the national economy, which Giertz says does not seem to have made the same jump.

“Now the fly in the ointment is always, is it just a transitory blip or is it a longer term trend?” said Giertz. “And the answer, obviously, is we don’t know yet. So, it’s good news for this month. And then we’ll await more information in the future about whether it’s a long term trend.”

September’s Flash Index reading of 105.5 was the highest since last December. Giertz says it comes after Illinois’ unemployment rate fell in August to 4.0%, its lowest rate since current methodology for measuring employment was introduced in the 1970’s.