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Macro Pulse highlights recent activity and events expected to affect the U.S. economy over the next 24 months. While the review is of the entire U.S. economy its particular focus is on developments affecting the Forest Products industry. Everyone with a stake in any level of the sector can benefit from
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

November 2011 Personal Income and Outlays, Retail Sales and Consumer Debt

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Bureau of Economic Analysis data showed that personal income increased $8.5 billion (0.1 percent) and disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $5.0 billion (less than 0.1 percent), in November. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $13.1 billion (0.1 percent) in November. Real (inflation-adjusted) DPI decreased less than 0.1 percent while real PCE increased 0.2 percent.
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With real DPI growth essentially stalling on a year-over-year basis, consumers are reducing their rate of saving to maintain their lifestyles. The personal saving rate fell back to 3.5 percent in November, the lowest since the beginning of the recession in December 2007.
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Consumers bumped up spending on retail goods in November for everything except meals away from home. Overall, spending rose 0.2 percent. The “other” category saw the biggest absolute jump ($659 million) but vehicles experienced the largest percentage change (0.5 percent). The biggest winners in November were electronics retailers, whose sales jumped 2.1 percent as consumers snapped up new mobile phones, iPads, electronic-book readers and high-definition televisions.
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Total consumer debt outstanding surged in November, rising by a seasonally adjusted and annualized $20.4 billion (10 percent), the largest monthly gain in a decade. Credit card debt rose by $5.6 billion (8.5 percent), the most since March 2008, while non-revolving debt (mainly student and auto loans) increased $14.8 billion (10.7 percent), nearly matching July's gain that was the biggest since February 2005. Student loans comprised over 75 percent of the gain in the non-revolving loan category.

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