Worst period for consumer may be over

Salesman Reece Williams, left, helps Dora Sassus, right, purchase a dishwasher at Cherin's Appliances in San Francisco

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Given the present climate, any spending is a hopeful sign. So you could look at today's report from the Commerce Department as an indication that things at least aren't getting worse. Until, that is, you take a look at the income side of things. Marketplace's Tamara Keith has the numbers for us from Washington.


Tamara Keith: U.S. consumer spending rose for a second straight month in February. It was up 0.2 percent, which is basically what the market was expecting. Though adjusting for inflation actually brings consumer spending into slightly negative territory. This follows January's suprisingly high 1 percent increase. Before that, there had been six months of declines.

Nigel Gault, Chief U.S. Economist at IHS Global Insight, says it seems things are starting to stabilize on the consumer end:

Nigel Gault: It does look like the worst period for the consumer, the steepest declines, are now behind us.

Gault says falling employment was also on display in government numbers released today. Incomes fell in February by 0.2 percent. This was more than analysts had been expecting, and is the result of continued layoffs.

In Washington, I'm Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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