U of I Flash Index falls in May

June 3, 2019

U of I Flash Index falls in May

Ends streak of three consecutive monthly increases


The University of Illinois Flash Index dropped in May to 105.4, breaking a string of three consecutive monthly increases. The index, which measures the strength of the Illinois economy, was at 105.6 in April.

While April’s surprising increase in the individual and corporate tax receipts was not offset by unexpectedly lower May revenues, May taxes returned to more normal levels, said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. The Illinois economy continues to expand at a steady, moderate rate, he said. 

The index had increased slowly but steadily from February through April, rising from 105.3 to 105.6. It has remained within the range of 105.1-105.6 since August 2018. Any reading above 100 indicates growth. See the full Flash Index archive.

“After a strong 3.1 percent growth rate for the national economy in the first quarter of 2019, there is considerable concern whether this can be sustained,” Giertz said. “Trade issues that have been a concern for many months now appear to be having a measurable impact both nationally and in Illinois.” 

The national unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low of 3.6 percent in May, Giertz said. The Illinois rate remained at 4.4 percent.

Sales tax receipts were up markedly from the same month last year after adjusting for inflation and rate changes while individual and corporate receipts were lower.

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 May 31, 2019.

Flash Index 3-year chart


Research Area: Fiscal Health of Illinois

Policy Initiative: none