Friday, May 28, 2010

April Personal Income up 0.4%, Spending Increases Slightly

by Bill McBride on 5/28/2010 08:30:00 AM

From the BEA: Personal Income and Outlays, April 2010

Personal income increased $54.4 billion, or 0.4 percent ... Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $4.0 billion, or less than 0.1 percent.
...
Real PCE -- PCE adjusted to remove price changes -- increased less than 0.1 percent in April
...
Personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 3.6 percent in April, compared with 3.1 percent in March.
The following graph shows real Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) through April (2005 dollars). Note that the y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

Personal Consumption Expenditures Click on graph for large image.

The quarterly change in PCE is based on the change from the average in one quarter, compared to the average of the preceding quarter.

The colored rectangles show the quarters, and the blue bars are the real monthly PCE.

Spending only increased slightly in April compared to March.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) uses several measures to determine if the economy is in recession. One of the measures is real personal income less transfer payments (see NBER memo). This increased in April to $9,059 billion (SAAR) and is barely above the low of October 2009 ($8,987 billion).

Personal Income less Transfer This graph shows real personal income less transfer payments since 1969.

This measure of economic activity is moving sideways - similar to what happened following the 2001 recession.

This month income increased faster than spending ... meaning the saving rate increased.

Personal Saving rate This graph shows the saving rate starting in 1959 (using a three month trailing average for smoothing) through the April Personal Income report. The saving rate increased to 3.6% in April (decreased slightly using a three month average).

I still expect the saving rate to rise over the next couple of years slowing the growth in PCE.

The increase in income was good news, but personal income less transfer payments are still barely above the low of last year.