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Job Increases Nudge Consumer Spending Up In May

Washington — A bump in new jobs is making things look a bit brighter for consumer spending, if the latest figures from the U.S. Commerce Department and the Census Bureau are any indication. 

Consumer spending rose in May, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department, driven in large part by motor vehicle sales.

Consumer spending rose 0.9 percent, or just shy of $106 billion, for the month compared with April. Wages and salaries also increased in May, rising $37.1 billion vs. a $21.6 billion increase in April.

Retail sales also rose in May, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, to $444.9 billion. (Food services are also included in these figures.) This is up 1.2 percent from April and up 2.7 from the prior-year period.

Although sales in CE and appliance stores were essentially flat for the month, with just a 0.1 percent dip, furniture and home-furnishing stores witnessed a 0.8 percent monthly increase and a whopping 4.1 percent year-over-year jump. Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation (NRF), heralded the strength of the labor market as a driving force of optimism, noting that as jobs and income grow, sales are expected to follow suit.

Retail employers, excluding auto, gas and restaurants, added 23,800 new jobs in May. Noted Kleinhenz: “Retailers are in sync with the broader pick-up in the economy and employment. We should continue to witness additional gains as the economy accelerates.”