Personal income rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $23.4 billion in October to reach $2.190 trillion, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. The 1.1 percent rise in the month matched the revised figure for September. Figures for income in both September and August were revised upwards, the department said.
"All in all, this release gives us a picture of a somewhat stronger increase in the economy than thought," commented William Cox, deputy chief economist at Commerce. But he agreed that surging interest rates could slow down the recovery.
The prime lending rate of major banks has risen by 1-3/4 points since the election, and money market rates also have gone up sharply. Rates soared by more than 200 basis points (one one-hundredth of a percentage point) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development's latest sale of tax-exempt bonds yesterday. Interest rates on the notes for urban renewal projects averaged 7.978 percent yesterday.
President-elect Ronald Reagan's economic advisers reportedly are worried about the prospect of high interest rates continuing next year. They are anxious to cut federal spending and convince the financial markets that inflation is going to moderate. High interest rates are likely to hit housing and auto sales, the two sectors which were weakest in the recession.
Interest rates have been rising as the Federal Reserve Board has tightened credit in an effort to contain the growth in the money supply. Yesterday it released figures showing that in the four weeks ending Nov. 5 the narrow measure of the money supply, M1-A, rose by an annual rate of 12 percent from three months earlier. Another measure, M1-B, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14-1/2 percent. Both these figures are well outside the Fed's target range for fourth-quarter money growth.
In the latest week, M1-A rose by $700 million, the Fed reported yesterday, while M1-B rose by $1.4 billion to a seasonally adjusted $411.9 billion. The figures were released a little later than usual because the Fed now is collecting weekly reports from thrift institutions and nonmember banks as well as member banks. But these will not be incorporated into the money supply figures for some time.
From San Francisco the United League of Savings Association reported yesterday that deposits at savings associations exceeded withdrawals by $2.3 billion last month, with a new deposit gain of $1.3 billion. But the league's executive vice president, William B. O'Connell, said the deposit gain will "not mean much for housing" because virtually all the new funds are in high-cost money market certificates.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that there was a marked increase in wages and salaries in October caused largely by a pay rise for federal employees and the military, and a retroactive payment of a wage rise to communications workers. These two factors helped push the October increase in wages and salaries to $18.5 billion, or 1.4 percent, compared with a rise of $12.8 billion in September.
There was some slowdown in pay rises in the private sector in October. When government employes are excluded, wages and salaries went up by only 0.6 percent last month compared with rises of nearly 1-1/2 percent a month in August and september.
Personal consumption was a "little stronger than expected" from the retail sales figures published earlier, Cox said. This spending went up by $17.2 billion or 1 percent, to reach a seasonally adjusted $1.757 trillion. In September this spending was up by $12.5 billion.
Spending on durable goods was up by $6.4 billion last month after a $2 billion fall in September. Most of the increase was in purchases of autos and auto parts. The new models came out last month.
None of the October figures takes account of inflation. The inflation-adjusted numbers for September show a $1.6 billion fall in real personal incomes and a $4.6 billion drop in real personal spending.
People saved a little more of their income in September and October than in the preceding months. Savings were about 4.9 percent of income in September and 4.8 percent last month.