Flash Index up to 105.6 in April

May 1, 2019

Flash Index up to 105.6 in April

Strong first-quarter economic performance continues into Q2


URBANA _ The University of Illinois Flash Index moved up to 105.6 in April, an increase of two-tenths of a point over March. The higher reading keeps the index in the 105-106 range where it has stayed since last July. 

The Flash Index is a monthly barometer of economic activity in Illinois. Any reading above 100 indicates the economy is growing. The index has not been below the 100 mark since February 2012. View the full archive.

“Most observers expected a slower growing economy in 2019 compared to last year,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “However, first quarter GNP growth registered a strong 3.2 percent increase and Illinois tax receipts were unusually strong in April.”

State tax receipts are the building blocks of the Flash Index. The Illinois unemployment rate, another indicator of economic activity, ticked up slightly to 4.4 percent, but remains extremely low by historical standards, Giertz said.

All three components of the index -- individual, corporate and sales tax receipts -- were up markedly from the same month last year after adjusting for inflation and rate changes. 

“A cautionary note may be in order,” Giertz said. “It is possible that some of the increases could be the result of the unusual timing of receipts that might have a negative impact on next month’s revenue.”

The Flash Index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, personal 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 April 30, 2019.

Flash Index 3-year chart

Research Area: Fiscal Health of Illinois

Policy Initiative: none