UI flash index above 100 for first time since '08

UI flash index above 100 for first time since '08

URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index jumped greatly in March, indicating significant growth in the Illinois economy.

The index increased from 99.2 in February to 101 in March, a rise of nearly 2 points.

That pushed the index above 100, the so-called dividing point between economic contraction and growth.

The March reading was the highest since September 2008, according to the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, which releases the index.

UI economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index, said the combination of the substantial monthly increase and the breaking of the 100 barrier is "good news for the economy."

In a press release, Giertz said the strong reading was consistent with both U.S. and Illinois economic data.

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

In March, all three components of the index — individual income tax receipts, corporate tax receipts and sales tax receipts — were up compared with March 2011, when adjusted for inflation.

Corporate tax receipts rose by the largest percentage, Giertz said.

Still, he said, the recovery from the 2007-09 recession remains anemic, with very high unemployment rates for this stage of the business cycle.

"It will likely be at least a year or two before unemployment rates in the 6 percent range are achieved," he said.

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