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Flash Index reflects national slow-down

The Flash Index fell in April to 106 from its 106.5 level in March. This is the third month of decline for the index, which reached a post-recession high of 107.2 in January.

This decline is consistent with recently released preliminary national data reporting that first quarter GDP growth was near zero—a rate of 0.1 percent. “This disappointing result may reflect the unusually harsh winter,” said J. Fred Giertz, who complies the index for the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “If this is the case, the economy may eventually grow faster in the second quarter, making up some of this loss.”

The Illinois unemployment rate fell to 8.4 from 8.7 percent in February. This improvement is tempered by the fact that Illinois' rate is well above the 6.7 percent national rate and exceeded by only Rhode Island and Nevada.

Both individual income and corporate tax receipts were down significantly in real terms from the same month last year while sales tax receipts were up moderately.

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 April 30, 2014.