Flash index highest since August 2007
URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index rose slightly to 105.9 in May, its highest point in nearly six years, the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs reported.
The index — a measure of the state's economy — is a weighted average of growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.
The flash index jumped from 104.7 in March to 105.8 in April before moving up an additional one-tenth of a point in May.
The last time the index was that high was August 2007, when it stood at 106.
Economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index, said that despite the rise, the state's unemployment rate remains high.
In April, the rate was 9.3 percent — higher than a year earlier and well above the national unemployment rate of 7.5 percent.
"During the long and slow recovery from the 2007-09 recession, growth in output has not been sufficient to bring down unemployment quickly because increases in productivity have limited the need for additional workers," Giertz said.
"Growth will need to accelerate to get back to pre-recession levels," he said.
To calculate the index, Giertz looks at monthly tax receipts from corporate income, personal income and retail sales.
In May, two components of the index — individual and corporate income tax receipts — were down from May 2012, when adjusted for inflation. Sales tax receipts, however, were up by a small amount, Giertz said.