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The Flash Index rose to 105.5 in November, but omicron, inflation could still leave a mark

URBANA – The state’s economy continues to grow at a good pace, according to the monthly Flash Index from the University of Illinois

The Flash Index rose slightly in November, reading 105.5, compared to its October reading of 105.4. Any number above 100 shows economic growth.

Economist Fred Giertz, who compiles the Flash Index for the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs, says the Flash Index shows Illinois’ economy is doing pretty well right now.

“The good news is, it’s growing,” said Giertz. “The good news is that the unemployment rate is going down. The cloud on the horizon is, it’s still not as good as the national economy. The national economy has a considerably lower unemployment rate.”

Giertz says the Illinois unemployment rate is at 6.0%, a post-recession low, compared to the state’s 8.1% rate of a year ago. The national unemployment rate is 4.6%.

Giertz says the November Flash Index reading comes too soon to tell us what impact the new COVID-19 omicron variant may have on the state’s economy. The first U-S cases of the new variant began showing up in the U-S this week.

“That adds to the uncertainty about the future,” said Giertz of the possible impact of the variant. “No one knows whether it’s going to be worse or better than the Delta. But right now, it’s sort of an open question. So, it tells us where we are. It doesn’t really tell us where we’re going, in terms of the Index.

Giertz says the Illinois economy could also be affected in coming months by inflation or supply chain problems.

The Flash Index is based on Illinois tax receipts — all of which were up slightly in November, compared to a year ago. Any Flash Index reading above 100 shows economic growth. The Flash Index has been above 100 since April, after spending 13 months below that level with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Picture of 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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