Flash Index continues upward climb

October 1, 2018

Flash Index continues upward climb

Reaches highest level since May 2016


The University of Illinois Flash Index continued its upward climb in September, rising to 105.2, up one-tenth of a point from August. This is the highest reading since May 2016 and marks the third consecutive month of increase in the index, which measures the strength of the Illinois economy. 

“Projections for U.S. growth for the third quarter remain strong with annual (2018) GDP growth expected to be near 3 percent,” said economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index each month for the university system’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “The Illinois unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent, the lowest on record, matching, the February 1999 reading.  Illinois’ rate is now only slightly above the 3.9 percent national unemployment rate. This compares to a more than one percentage point differential in 2014.”

Revenue growth in Illinois continues to be strong, Giertz said. As was the case last month, all three components of the index (sales, corporate and individual income tax receipts) were up for the month compared to the same month last year after adjusting for inflation and rate changes. 

Any Flash Index reading above 100 indicates growth in the state’s economy. The Index has been above 100 every month since February 2012 and reached its post-recession high of 107.1 in April 2016. It fell to 103.9 last October but has shown increases in eight of the past 11 months.

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 September 30, 2018.

Flash Index 3-year Chart

Research Area: Fiscal Health of Illinois

Policy Initiative: none