URBANA — The University of Illinois flash index, which has been trending upward for more than two years, fell back a bit in January.
The index dropped from 99.1 in December to 98.8 in January, and UI economist J. Fred Giertz said readings suggest "the Illinois economy is still improving very slowly."
Because January 2011 was a month of transition from old to new income-tax rates, it's difficult to determine whether January 2012's dip was the beginning of a new trend or a statistical anomaly, he said in a release from the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
The index, which provides a snapshot of the Illinois economy, uses a weighted average of growth rates in the state's corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.
In January 2012, sales-tax receipts were up compared with receipts from January 2011. However, individual income tax receipts and corporate tax receipts were down slightly.
The figures were adjusted for inflation. They were also adjusted to account for the individual and corporate income tax increases that took effect in January 2011.
Readings below 100 generally indicate contraction in the state's economy, while readings of 100 and higher indicate the state's economy is growing.
Giertz, who compiles the index, said unemployment continues to be a significant drag on the economy. The state rate is hovering near 10 percent, and national employment levels remain relatively stagnant, he said.