Personal income in the U.S. rose by two-tenths of 1 percent in October, a slower rate than most economists had predicted and another indication that troubles in the housing and credit markets could be spilling into the general economy.
The Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the inflation-adjusted annualized rate of personal income, which has been rising each month since March, totaled $11.814 trillion in October, or $21.3 billion higher than the rate in September. However, the September estimate represented a $50 billion gain over August. That same pattern was evident in the Bureau's estimates for disposable personal income as well. And after accounting for a three-tenths of a percentage point rise in prices, real after-tax incomes fell 0.1 percent, representing the first decline since April. Consumers' savings, as a portion of their disposable incomes, fell in October to 0.5 percent, from 0.7 percent in September.
Goods-producing industries, which include home builders and home-related product manufacturers, captured $1.217 trillion of Americans' wages and salaries, on an annualized basis in October, a 2.2 percent decline from September. "Consumer spending is under serious pressure," Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at Maria Fiorini Ramirez Inc. in New York, told Bloomberg News. "A slowdown in the labor market, higher energy prices, and the collapse in housing are coming home to roost." Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke had pretty much the same take on household income and spending, stating cryptically that these factors "seem likely to create some headwinds for the consumer in the months ahead."
It would seem that consumers are already bracing themselves against that headwind. On Tuesday, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, which is based on monthly polling of 5,000 households and has been falling each month since the summer, declined to 87.3 in November, from 95.2 in October.