Flash index at highest point since February 2008

Flash index at highest point since February 2008

URBANA — The University of Illinois flash economic index took a big jump in October, reaching its highest point since February 2008.

The index — considered a barometer of the Illinois economy — increased to 104, up from 103.2 in September.

That was one of the strongest monthly gains this year, according to the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, which issues the statistic.

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

All three components of the index — individual income tax receipts, corporate tax receipts and sales tax receipts — were higher in October than in October 2011, when adjusted for inflation.

Growth in corporate tax receipts was particularly strong.

A release from the institute said the increase in the flash index was encouraging because the number employed in the state recently "reached a post-recession high."

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 8.8 percent in September, down from 9.1 percent in August.

Economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the flash index for the institute, said the statistics should be considered with caution.

"The Illinois (unemployment) rate is still well above the national average of 7.8 percent," Giertz said in the release. "Even with the recent improvement, the unemployment rate remains at a very high level compared to recent recoveries."