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Flash Index: Illinois’ economic growth continues its slow decline in March.

The state’s economy continues to grow, but slowly, according to the latest report from the University of Illinois Flash Index.

After an increase to 103.4 in February, the Flash Index for March dropped back to its January level of 103.1. Except for that one-month increase, the Flash Index has been declining since a peak of 106.1 in March of 2022. (Any reading on the Flash Index above 100 indicates economic growth.)

University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz says economists are still unsure whether a recession is on the horizon.

There’s a good probability (that) it may be a few months away,” said Giertz. “But every month, the same thing seems to be occurring. And the recession hasn’t come yet, but there’s still the fear that it’s out there.”

Giertz also noted that the state’s economy is doing much better now than he thought it would.

 “If someone had asked me three years, at the beginning of the COVID crisis what’s in store for the state of Illinois, I would have said it’s going to be really a struggle, and all kinds of difficulty’s going to arise,” said Giertz. “But it’s turned out to be actually better in terms of revenue than it was prior to that.”

The Flash Index took a nose-dive at the start of the pandemic in 2020, dropping from 105.7 in February 2020 to a low of 92.8 in May of that year, indicating a contracting economy. The Flash Index then began to rise, but did not show economic expansion again until April 2021, when it reached 101.5. The index showed increasing economic growth until it hit the 106.1 mark a year ago.

Giertz uses Illinois tax receipt data to compile the monthly Flash Index for the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He says those receipts, while down for March compared to 12 months ago, are running ahead of a year ago, when compared on a twelve-month basis.

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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