Flash Index reaches highest level in 20 months

May 1, 2018

Flash Index reaches highest level in 20 months


The University of Illinois Flash Index rose in April to its highest level in 20 months, reaching 104.7. That is up from 104.5 in May and is the highest reading since a 104.8 in August 2016. 

“The Illinois economy is gaining momentum but the Flash Index is still below the 105 and higher levels that were achieved from early 2013 to April 2016,” said economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the University’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “Note that any reading above 100 indicates growth. This reflects the long, slow recovery from the 2007-2009 recession—an expansion that is now nearing record length.  

“The recovery has overcome the earlier problems that were labeled as ‘jobless’ and ‘no-wage-growth,’” Giertz said. (View the complete Flash Index archive.)

Preliminary first quarter GDP growth for the U.S. economy was 2.3 percent, below the level of the past three quarters, but still relatively strong compared to the weak first quarters of 2016 and 2017. The Illinois unemployment rate continued its decline to 4.6 percent, the lowest since 2007 and dramatically below the post-recession high of 11.3 percent in March 2010. Illinois is now only one-half of a percentage point above the national unemployment rate.

Two components of the index (sales and corporate tax receipts) were down while income tax receipts were up for the month compared to the same month last year after adjusting for inflation and rate changes. Income tax receipts were especially strong for the month, registering the second highest unadjusted monthly total ever.

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, 2018.

Research Area: Fiscal Health of Illinois

Policy Initiative: none