U of I Flash Index up in November; reaches May 2016 high

December 3, 2018

U of I Flash Index up in November; reaches May 2016 high


The University of Illinois Flash Index reached 105.3 in November, its highest level since the same reading in May 2016. The monthly indicator of the Illinois economy was up from 105.2 in October.

See Flash Index readings back to 1981

The Flash Index has used monthly tax receipts to estimate economic activity in the state since 1995 with historic readings dating to 1981. Any reading above 100 indicates growth in the economy.

“The expansion of the national and Illinois economies continues strong despite the increased volatility in financial markets,” said U of I economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “The expansion is in its ninth year, the second longest in history. 

“While few observers see a recession in the near term, there is concern about whether the 3 percent GDP growth rate can be sustained,” Giertz said.

The Illinois unemployment rate ticked upward to 4.2 percent in October from its 4.1 percent rate the previous month. The national rate held steady at 3.7 percent. Illinois’ rate one year ago was 4.9 percent. The November election changed the political landscape in Illinois, but there is no clear agreement on the impact of the change on the state’s economy.

Two components of the index (corporate and individual income tax receipts) were little changed for November compared to the same month in 2017 after adjusting for inflation and rate changes. Sales tax receipts were up strongly.

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 November 2018.

Research Area: Fiscal Health of Illinois

Policy Initiative: none