The Institute of Government and Public Affairs has announced the U of I Flash Index on the Illinois economy rose to 106.3 in September, up from 106.0 in August. Readings over 100 mean the economy is growing, and the Index has been above 100 since March 2012.

The Institute bases part of the Index calculation on the state's unemployment rate, which stands now at 6.7 percent compared to 9.2 percent a year ago. IGPA officials cite national GDP growth and a strong rebound from decline due to poor weather in the first quarter of 2014 as added factors in Illinois' overall improvement.

In a flash: a look at Illinois' economy

flash-septemberThe Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois produces the most widely used monthly economic indicator in Illinois. Every month since 1995, the U of I Flash Index distills a wealth of economic measures on jobs, taxes, production, income, sales and more data points into a score to indicate how the state's economy is doing.

Created by J. Fred Giertz, Ph.D, and his economics students in the IGPA program, the index reflects recent and near-term economic activity. Because some of those data points often are not available until months after they are measured, IGPA can compare those lagging measures to the Flash Index as they are published to ensure accuracy and analyze in more detail. It also reflects major events such as 9/11 or particularly harsh weather seasons that affect the state or national economy.

IGPA measures the historic data on a dividing line between expansion and contraction with a baseline score of 100, which equals no growth. Illinois has been above 100 since mid-2012, and has been up since May after a dip reflecting the effects of the harsh winter on our economy.

I Like Illinois will share the U of I Flash Index routinely to help provide the public with the latest information on the state of Illinois' economy. You can review the history of the Flash Index, IGPA's annual Illinois Report and their Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox on IGPA's website: http://igpa.uillinois.edu.