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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Illinois Flash Index Down Slightly In August, But Still Shows Growth

The Flash Index for the Illinois economy measured 106 in August, down slightly from July’s reading of 106.2.

The Index has stayed within the narrow range of those two numbers for the past four months. 

University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz says one positive sign is Illinois’ July unemployment rate of 6.8%. That’s the first drop below 7% since 2008.

Giertz says a few years ago, Illinois’ jobless level was two percentage points higher than the national rate. But now the two figures are within a percentage point of each other.

“We’ve continued to grow. The national economy has continued to grow. The problem is, that neither is growing as fast as most people hoped. Again, we’re heading in the right direction, but we’re getting to the goal in a very slow way. Because the unemployment rate, even though it’s going down, is still high by long-term comparisons,” Giertz said.

Any Flash Index reading above 100 reflects economic growth. But the August reading of 106 is still lower than the 107 reading it gave last December.

Giertz says the Illinois economy is still recovering from the harsh winter of a few months ago.

The Flash Index is based on Illinois tax receipts, and Giertz says the state’s sales, personal income and corporate taxes are all down slightly from a year ago.