After three months of declines, the U of I’s Flash Index to the Illinois economy showed a slight increase in May, up two tenths of a point, to 106.2.
Any reading above 100 on the Flash Index shows economic growth. But economist Fred Giertz with the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs says the rate of growth had declined from February through April, possibly due to the harsh winter.
Before that time, Giertz says Illinois’ economic growth rate had reached an encouraging 3-4%.
“And there was hope we were breaking out of the kind of steady but slow recovery and going into a more rapid recovery," said Giertz. "But then, that was reversed during the first quarter. And now, the hope is that was just a function of the weather, and we weren’t really going into a recession or anything bad, just a temporary kind of lull.”
Even with the slight increase in May, the Flash Index is still a full point below where it had been in January. The index is based on Illinois tax receipts, and Giertz says income and sales taxes were up slightly last month, while corporate tax receipts declined.
Giertz says the Flash Index does not predict the future, but he thinks the state’s higher-than-average unemployment rate is a sign that economic growth will continue to be steady but slow.