Flash Index continues gradual comeback but remains below growth level

September 1, 2020

Flash Index continues gradual comeback but remains below growth level


The University of Illinois Flash Index in August increased to 94.6 from its 93.9 level in July. In the sixth month after the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the index is still well below the 100-dividing line between growth and decline, although it has steadily increased the last three months.

“The Illinois and national economies are still in a potentially volatile condition, balanced between the hope of continued progress on the virus with the possible development of a vaccine and the threat of a resurgence of the pandemic,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “A hopeful note has been the performance of the equity markets that have registered surprisingly strong gains, presumably on the prospect of a stronger than expected recovery.”

The Illinois unemployment rate continued its decline to 11.3% from 14.5% the previous month, still over 8 percentage points above the level it was at one year ago.  The Illinois rate is now about one percentage point above the national level compared to more than 3 percentage points the previous month. 

The Flash Index is normally a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, individual income and retail sales taxes. 

These 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 August 31, 2020.  For the last five months, several ad hoc adjustments were made to deal with the timing of the tax receipts resulting from state and Federal changes in payment dates that were made to lessen the impact of the closures. See the full Flash Index archive.


Research Area: Fiscal and Economic Policy

Policy Initiative: none