Economic News Blog
Posted by: Steven Kline, Jr. 8. November 2014

Consumer Spending Up Just 2.1% in September

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real consumer spending in September 2014 was $10,964 billion real dollars (seasonally adjusted at an annual rate). The month-over-month rate of growth in consumer spending was 2.1%, which was the second slowest rate of growth since February 2013. This is still only two-thirds of the historic average month-over-month growth rate. The month-over-month rate of change has been between 2.0% and 2.7% every month but one since November 2012. The annual rate of change has been stuck at 2.4% since November 2013. 

Real disposable income, a good leading indicator for real consumer spending, has been growing at an accelerating rate throughout 2014. However, the annual rate of growth of growth is still relatively weak in historic terms. The rate of growth in consumer spending is significantly higher than the rate of growth in disposable income. However, these two curves usually track each other quite closely. Therefore, even if the rate of growth in incomes continues to accelerate, there may not be much improvement in the growth rate of consumer spending.

While total consumer spending has been growing significantly slower than the historic average rate, real consumer durable goods spending continues to grow about 50% more than the historical average rate of growth. The month-over-month rate of growth was 7.1%, which was the second fastest rate of growth since March 2014. Durable goods spending continues to make up a larger share of all consumer spending due to the ultra-low interest rates (particularly sub-prime automotive lending). In September, durable goods spending was 14.8% of all consumer spending, which is the second highest percent ever.

Real consumer spending (or its sub-components such as medical care spending) is an important leading for a number of durable goods end markets: construction materialscustom processorsdurable goodsfood/beverage processingforming/fabricating (non-auto)hardwareHVACindustrial motors/hydraulics/mechanical componentsmachinery/equipment manufacturingmedicalmetalcutting job shopsoil/gas field/mining machinerypower generationprimary metals; and printing.

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