Consumer Spending Flat

Via the AP:  Americans spend at weakest pace in 20 months

Consumer spending was unchanged, the Commerce Department said Monday. That was the worst result since September 2009. And when adjusted for inflation, spending actually dropped 0.1 percent.

April’s consumer spending figures were revised to show a similar decline when adjusting for inflation. It marked the first decline in inflation-adjusted spending since January 2010.

Incomes rose 0.3 percent for the second straight month. But adjusted for inflation, after-tax incomes increased only 0.1 percent in May, after falling by the same amount in the previous month.

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    This is only a Bad Thing if you believe that consumer spending is the only possible engine for the economy. I’ve seen a lot of favorable reports about Germany in the news lately. Less reported: consumer spending in Germany is a fraction what it is here as a proportion of the economy.

    We need more saving and we need more business spending. We need to export more. That necessarily means that consumer spending must become less important in the total economy.

  2. Gerry W. says:

    Germany is very worried with the fragile world we live in. They have done some innovative approaches for employment, but they must import more Turkish people and have to deal with Greece. Germany has always in recent years have a public/private partnership. It will be hard to save money as either the jobs are lost or people get paid less. 1/3 of our factories have closed. It is hard to export more when you have less factories. And with half of our products being foreign made, consumer spending seems to be less meaningful. Or at least will not create the jobs that it once did as we don’t make the products. Business is spending overseas and not as much here, and if they spend here, they spend on robots to replace people. And small business cannot develop if you have factories closed in a community. And with all the stimulus spent over the years, there is nothing to pull us out of this mess.

  3. Drew says:
  4. mattb says:

    We need more saving and we need more business spending. We need to export more. That necessarily means that consumer spending must become less important in the total economy.

    @Dave, follow up question to this good point…

    From your perspective, what are the important widely reported measures to watch? What are the measures that should be reported?

    And what would it take to shift more attention to them? Is this a government needs to report different stuff? Or that the news should be shifting their reporting?

  5. Drew says:


    You could start with the various Fed office reports on manufacturing. They are issued routinely. See above.

    In addition: purchasing managers reports/PPI and so forth.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Rate of business formation. It’s been declining for decades and gets practically no press.

  7. mattb says:


    Rate of business formation.

    How might franchising and expansion of chain retail, services, and restaurants fit into that particular equation?

    I guess franchising would typically register on business formation — if the buying goes through a new LLC — correct?

  8. john personna says:

    FWIW Consumer Metrics Institute shows us at 500+ days in a second (2010) contraction (after a shorter 2008 contraction). An ugly dataset.