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Flash Index leveled off in November

The Flash Index for November leveled off to 103.9, almost the same as the 104.0 reading the previous month. After posting a strong increase in October, and modest gains for several months prior, the November index continues to reflect a painfully slow economic recovery.

The current recovery from the 2007-2009 recession is the slowest since the Great Depression. Statewide unemployment is still well above 8 percent two and a half years since the recovery began.

“Unemployment has been particularly intractable during the recovery,” said economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the Flash Index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

“Unlike most previous recessions, productivity continued to increase during and after the recent recession. Because of increased productivity, firms have been able to increase output without hiring many additional workers,” Giertz said. “This may also account for the high level of corporate profits and the strong rebound of the stock market.”

All three components of the index (individual income tax, corporate tax, and sales tax receipts) were slightly higher in real terms compared to the same month last year. The increases were much smaller than last month.

The Flash 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 November 30, 2012.