Business, Economics and Jobs

Consumer spending beats expectations


The Commerce Department reported April 27, 2012, that consumer spending increased nearly 3 percent in the first quarter of 2012.


Justin Sullivan

Consumer spending saw its biggest increase since February, rising by 0.8% in September, the Commerce Department said Monday.

It's the third straight month of increased numbers, which analysts say reflects higher confidence in the economy. 

"This means the fiscal cliff is not worrying consumers at this point like it is the business sector," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York told the Los Angeles Times, referring to a drop in business investment reported in the figures on third-quarter economic growth.

Bloomberg reports that household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of gross domestic product, was expected to rise by only 0.6 percent.

“The strength in September gives consumer spending a good lift for the fourth quarter,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC told Bloomberg.

“The housing market seems to have turned. Consumers are clearly feeling better and are going out and spending a bit more.”

Incomes climbed by a much smaller amount but still managed a gain of 0.4 percent, the most since March.

The figures might get closer scrutiny than usual with only eight days left until the presidential election. The economy is front and center of the fight between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. 

The economy has shown signs of improving, reports NBC News, but it's unclear whether the positive data will help the president's chances of re-election. 

The small increase in wages was offset by inflation and taxes. Mixed with sluggish job growth, it could have an impact on consumer spending over the long term. 

NBC reports that the saving rate slipped to 3.3 percent last month, the lowest since November 2011, from 3.7 percent the prior month.