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Flash Index shows slow recovery, corresponds with national growth rate

The Flash Index for September increased slightly to 103.2 from its 102.9 level in August. This continues the pattern of slow, steady growth over the last year.

While the index is at the highest level since March 2008, the pace of recovery from the 2007-2009 recession remains sluggish. At similar stages in the recovery from of the prior two recessions, the index was more than a point above the current level, said economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the Flash Index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

We are currently three years and three months into the recovery from the 2007-2009 recession. Three years and three months into the recovery from the 2001 recession, which lasted from March to November according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Flash Index had increased to 104.2. By 39 months after the 1991 recession, the Flash read 104.3.

“The Flash Index performance corresponds to the slow national growth rate that was recently revised downward to 1.3 percent for the second quarter and the continued high unemployment rate,” Giertz said. Illinois’ unemployment rate in August was 9.1 percent, down from 10.2 percent a year earlier. This illustrates improvement in the economy, but the rate is still extremely high by historical standards.

Only the corporate tax component of the index was up in real terms compared to the same month last year while individual income and sales tax receipts fell.

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 September 30, 2012.