U of I Flash Index stalls in November

December 1, 2020

U of I Flash Index stalls in November


The University of Illinois Flash Index was slowly recovering after it had dropped steeply at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that progress stalled last month. The index remained at 95.6 in November — the same reading as October. 

“November was a month of contrasts, with rising rates of COVID-19 infections accompanied by positive news about the likely early availability of a vaccine. It also appears the country has avoided a presidential election impasse,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the University of Illinois System's Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “This helps to explain the contrast between the equity markets experiencing the strongest month in over 30 years and the real economy showing little progress.”

Equity markets are forward-looking and incorporate the likely future benefits from the vaccine, while the Flash Index is based on current results that do not reflect these expectations, Giertz said. See the full Flash Index Archive.

The Illinois unemployment rate in October (latest available) provided positive news, falling from 10.4% the previous month to 6.8%. The Illinois rate fell slightly below the national rate. The November numbers are not likely to be as strong. 

After adjusting for inflation, sales and income tax receipts were down slightly from the same month last year. Corporate tax receipts were significantly lower because of one-time, extremely large collections in November 2019.

The Flash Index is normally a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, individual 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 November 30, 2020. Ad hoc adjustments have been made to deal with the timing of the tax receipts resulting from state and Federal changes in payment dates beginning in March.



Research Area: none

Policy Initiative: none