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U of I’s economic tracker shows largest one-month Illinois growth since 1981

Monday, May 3, 2021

* Institute of Government and Public Affairs

The April University of Illinois Flash Index jumped to 101.5 from its 97.8 level in March, roaring past the 100-level that divides growth and decline.

This increase was the largest in the history of the index, although the declines of March and April 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis were larger in absolute terms. See the full Flash Index Archive.

As with last month, the strong April reading was the result of both a strong economy and certain technical factors. “The index’s monthly inputs are now being compared to the depressed numbers of last year, indicating marked growth,” said University of Illinois economist J. Fred Giertz, who compiles the monthly index for the University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA). “In fact, the April index may underestimate growth because some of the various federal stimulus payments are not directly included in the index’s components.” In constructing the index, individual Illinois income tax collections are used as a surrogate for income, but many of these federal payments are not taxable and do not directly impact tax receipts.

Notwithstanding these technical issues, the Illinois and national economies are exhibiting real strength. Analysts are nearly unanimous in their optimism for the remainder of 2021. First-quarter GDP increased at a 6.4% annual rate. The unemployment rate continues to decline, although it is still more than two percentage points above pre-crisis levels. The unprecedented magnitude of federal income support programs may be slowing the decline.

Illinois’ unemployment rate is still more than one percentage point above the national rate. All three components of the index (individual income, corporate and sales tax receipts) were up strongly from the same month last year.

The Flash Index is normally a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income as estimated from receipts for corporate income, individual income, and retail sales taxes. These are adjusted for inflation before growth rates are calculated. The growth rate for each component is then calculated for the 12-month period using data through April 30, 2021.

Even though more than a year has passed since the advent of the crisis, ad hoc adjustments are still needed to deal with the timing of the tax receipts resulting from state and Federal changes in payment dates both this and last year.

* Recent history

Note the caveat, however: “the declines of March and April 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis were larger in absolute terms.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments »
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    Several consecutive weeks of very low unemployment claims (relatively speaking) and this, along with a number of new jobs and business announcement is really hurting the GOP narrative of Illinois as an economic basket case.


  2. - Loop Lady - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:26 am:

    Umm, this is good news…


  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:35 am:

    In think what’s truly pathetic to the simpleton politics that Rauner brought (or bought) to the old GOP, these type of positive numbers are seen as “bad” or “terrible” or “ruining our narrative”

    Being the party of No means you don’t get to own the good that is owned by those working and making policy that might claim these positives.

    Never understood the “gloom” strategy and loathing your state.

    What now, move goal posts and say “yeah, but… it needs to be… this”

    I think I’m old enough to remember the ridiculously silly “yes” agenda that the HRaunerites tried to spin as “vote yes with us to our rejected agenda”

    Governors own. They also own the good.


  4. - Friendly Bob Adams - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    Accept good news when you find it. The trend in the chart is looking good, comparable to the national trend.


  5. - Blue Dog - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:39 am:

    Be awesome when we get back to the good old days of the Trump administrative.


  6. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:41 am:

    Capital bill projects are happening, and that’s good for us too. Hopefully we get a national infrastructure bill passed. If it takes compromise on Biden’s plan to pass it, let’s get it done.


  7. - don the legend - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:42 am:

    ==Be awesome when we get back to the good old days of the Trump administrative.==

    Please put the pipe down and try again using a complete sentence.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    ===Trump administrative.===

    Trump administrative… thats says it all.

    Also, 1981 was the “Reagan Administrative” if we’re going back to what the trend is comparing.


  9. - Hmm - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    When kids get vaccinated the economy will explode even further I believe.


  10. - PublicServant - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:51 am:

    And Republicans are screaming inflation now when the graph clearly shows that while we’ve had a good bounce, we’ve got a long way to go.


  11. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 11:53 am:

    = “The index’s monthly inputs are now being compared to the depressed numbers of last year,=

    This is good news - but in the investing world this would be tempered as these numbers are known as “easy comps” . Due to the terribel comparison of Illinois growth rates compared to the previous year ( the hight of the pandemic shut-downs).


  12. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    “Be awesome when we get back to the good old days of the Trump administrative.”

    “the declines of March and April 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis were larger in absolute terms.”

    Yeah, can’t wait to get back to that.


  13. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 12:06 pm:

    === When kids get vaccinated the economy will explode even further I believe.===
    And higher gas prices since those two things go hand in hand.


  14. - Hmm - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 12:11 pm:

    === When kids get vaccinated the economy will explode even further I believe.===
    ==And higher gas prices since those two things go hand in hand==

    Time to buy an electric vehicle.


  15. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 1:05 pm:

    Might want to wait a few years until they work out the charging issues first

    https://www.businessinsider.in/thelife/news/1-in-5-electric-vehicle-owners-in-california-switched-back-to-gas-because-charging-their-cars-is-a-hassle-new-research-shows/articleshow/82332806.cms


  16. - Chicago Blue - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 1:51 pm:

    On the surface this is great news, but how much of this is due to the $1400 stimulus checks hitting bank accounts last month? We went and bought a new fridge and I’m sure others did something similar.


  17. - former southerner - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 2:13 pm:

    Quite the source you have there Lucky. No matter how long you plug in the Chevy Volt, it won’t get to 300 miles electric since it was a short range electric (~40 miles) but it only takes a few minutes to fill its gas tank for long range. Perhaps they careless author meant the Chevy Bolt but its rated range is 250 or 259 miles depending upon model, less for earlier models. And using a data set for satisfaction/trades beginning at the early stages of 2012 as being representative of current consumer motivation is questionable to put it nicely. Your level of contributions never fail to impress the easily impressed.


  18. - Pundent - Monday, May 3, 21 @ 4:58 pm:

    =Might want to wait a few years until they work out the charging issues first=

    No complaints from me.

    The article also says that 70% of those that switched back were relying on Level 1 (120 Volt) power. That means they never bothered to install a 240 volt outlet which is what’s recommended for at home charging. That’s like trying to fill the gas tank with an eye dropper.


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