The rise in interest income received by Americans last month far outstripped the modest increase in private wages and salaries, which were held down by the spreading recession, the Commerce Department reported yesterday.
Total personal income rose only 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2,476.7 billion, up $14.3 billion from September, the department said. Even that increase would have been smaller except for the 4.8 percent pay increase for federal civilian employes, which was worth $1.5 billion, and a 14.3 percent hike for the military that added $4.5 billion.
Overall, private wages and salaries rose $1.3 billion in October. Manufacturing payrolls fell $2.8 billion, with sharp declines in employment only partially offset by increases in average hourly earnings.
Personal outlays fell $3.7 billion to a rate of $1,946.3 as consumers raised their saving rate to 6.5 percent of their disposable income compared to a 5.2 percent rate in September.
Most analysts expect the personal income figures for November to be still weaker. Employment levels apparently continue to fall, and this month no large federal pay increases will occur. The rapid decline in market interest rates should also preclude another gain in personal income on the same scale as in the preceding three months, when it rose more than $6 billion each month.
The October numbers confirm that consumers generally are cutting back on their spending. Personal consumption expenditures, the level of which was rising at a $25 billion or $30 billion clip in July and August, increased less than $1 billion in September and fell by $4.2 billion in October. The decline was concentrated in the purchase of durable goods, particularly automobiles, which dropped at a $13.7 billion rate.
The drop in consumer spending came even as personal tax payments were falling at a $10.4 billion rate as a result of the 5 percent cut in withholding of personal income taxes that took effect Oct. 1. The tax cut helped boost disposable personal income at a $24.7 billion rate compared to a $13.2 billion increase the month before.