UI flash index hits highest point in 5 years

UI flash index hits highest point in 5 years

URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index in December rose to its highest point in more than five years.

The index, considered a barometer of the Illinois economy, climbed to 104.6 in December 2012, up from 103.9 in November.

That was the highest it had been since September 2007.

All three components of the index — individual income tax receipts, corporate tax receipts and sales tax receipts — were higher in December than they were a year earlier when adjusted for inflation.

The strongest gains were in corporate tax receipts, a release from the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs stated.

When adjusted for inflation, sales tax receipts were up only slightly, confirming a modest holiday sales season.

Economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the institute, said steady growth in the Illinois economy should be viewed with cautious optimism for the year ahead.

"As has often been noted, these gains have not fully reversed the problems of high unemployment and slow growth for this stage of a recovery," Giertz said.

He said the Illinois unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, one percentage point above the national average of 7.7 percent and extremely high by historical standards.

The state unemployment rate has fallen by more than a percentage point in the last year.