American consumers increased their spending by a sharp 8.2% in May, partly erasing record plunges the previous two months, against the backdrop of an economy that’s likely shrinking by its steepest pace on record this quarter.
Last month’s rebound in consumer spending followed spending drops of 6.6% in March and 12.6% in April, when the viral pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a recession. Since then, many businesses have reopened, drawing consumers back into shops and restaurants and restoring some lost jobs.
Friday’s Commerce Department report showed that Americans stepped up their spending in May despite a 4.2% decline in personal income, which had soared by 10.8% the previous month.
Income had jumped in April on the strength of billions of dollars in support through government payments in the form of unemployment aid as well as one-time $1,200 stimulus checks. In May, those stimulus checks were no longer counted as income for most people.