US consumer spending edges higher in May

Thursday 26 June 2014 14.35
Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic growth
Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic growth

US consumers barely opened their wallets wider in May despite rising income growth, the government said today in a report providing evidence of weakness in the economy's key driver. 

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic growth, rose a mere 0.2% in May, the Commerce Department said. 

There was no growth in April, with the number revised to an increase of less than 0.1%, from a 0.1% fall. 

Real consumer spending, which strips out price changes, fell 0.1% in May after declining 0.2% in April. 

Durable goods spending jumped 1% after a 0.9% fall in April. Spending on cars also rose. 

The slump in spending came as personal income increased 0.4% in May, accelerating from the previous month's 0.3% gain. 

Disposable personal income - income adjusted for taxes and inflation - rose 0.2% for the second month in a row. Consumers were saving more, pushing the saving rate to 4.8% from 4.5% in April. US inflation remained subdued. 

The personal consumption expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve's preferred measure, rose 0.2%, the same as April.

Meanwhile, new US claims for unemployment insurance benefits were little-changed last week from the previous period, suggesting still only modest tightening in the jobs market so far this year. 

The Labor Department said today that initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totaled 312,000 in the week ending June 21, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week. 

The four-week moving average was slightly higher at 314,250, but sharply down from the average of 345,250 a year ago, a decline that has paralleled the sharp decline in the unemployment rate to 6.3%. 

However, the still-high level of dropouts from the labour market, in addition to those officially unemployed, underpins official views that there remains a lot of slack in the US labour force.