Flash index at highest in almost seven years

Flash index at highest in almost seven years

URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index hit 107.2 in January, its highest level since April 2007.

The index, a measure of economic growth within the state, rose from a December reading of 107, according to the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Generally, 100 is considered the dividing point between economic growth and decline.

The high January reading indicates the Illinois economy continues to grow at a slow but steady rate.

The index is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income, as measured by tax receipts.

In January, corporate tax receipts were up strongly compared with January 2013, when adjusted for inflation. Sales tax receipts were up about 3 percent, and individual income tax receipts were down less than 1 percent.

J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the flash index for the institute, said initial optimism about the national economy has been tempered by global financial concerns — specifically, about emerging markets.

Despite those concerns, the nation's Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from 4.1 percent in the third quarter.

"Growth in the 3 to 4 percent range is necessary to produce job growth that will reduce the unusually high levels of unemployment that have marked this recovery," Giertz said in a UI release.

The Illinois unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in December, tying the lowest level since the end of the recession. But the state recovery has been much slower than that of the nation.

The Illinois rate is 1.9 percentage points above the national rate — and lower than only two other states.

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