Personal income of Americans increased a strong $24.9 billion in November to an annual rate of $2.257 trillion, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.
The increase, however, was less than the $26.8 billion annual rate of rise in October. Wage and salary increase rose at a $17.6 billion rate in November compared with $23 billion the month before, the department said.
The smaller increase in wages and salaries was partly offset by jumps in other types of income, such as transfer payments, personal interest income and proprietors' income. As a result of that, and because of a small drop in tax payments, disposable personal income rose at a $18.8 billion rate last month, down only slightly from the $19.5 billion increase in October.
However, individuals stepped up their spending faster than their disposable income rose, causing them to save at a lower rate. Personal outlays rose $21.6 billion to a $1.793 trillion annual rate. Personal savings dropped to a $104.2 billion annual rate, the lowest level since March. Personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income fell to 5 1/2 percent, also the lowest level since March.
The department also reported that the personal consumption deflator -- a broader measure of inflation in prices of goods and services people actually buy rather than the fixed market-basket of items covered by the consumer price index -- rose 4.4 percent in the six months ended in October but 2.6 percent in the last three months. Those increases represent annual rates of 9 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. This measure of inflation is preferred by many economists over the CPI because it is not affected so strongly by changes in mortgage interest rates, a distorting factor in the CPI.
Unless the November CPI, which is due to be released today, shows an unexpectedly large rise, analysts said it is likely that disposable personal income in November rose slightly in real terms, that is, after adjustment for inflation.