Personal incomes expanded 2.6 percent in December, beating expectations of 0.8 percent growth.
November income growth was revised up to 1.0 percent from the 0.6 percent gain reported last month.
Spending was up 0.2 percent, slightly below expectations of a 0.3 percent rise.
The boost seems to have been driven by a surge in divided payouts ahead of the December 31 tax deadline.
From the press release:
"Personal income in November and December was boosted by accelerated and special dividend payments to persons and by accelerated bonus payments and other irregular pay in private wages and salaries in anticipation of changes in individual income tax rates. Personal income in December was also boosted by lump-sum social security benefit payments."
TD Securities' Millan Mulraine said the number is encouraging despite the one off dividend payment:
"On balance, even abstracting from the one-off surge in dividend payments (which we expect to reverse in January) the general tone of this report was quite encouraging. In particular, the improvement in wage growth and subdued inflationary backdrop provides the justification for the Fed to continue its current accommodative policy efforts while reinforcing their benign views on inflation and inflationary expectations.
Moreover, the surge in savings is likely to provide the kind of underpinning for personal spending in the coming months that could boost overall economic activity."
Personal income climbed 3.5 percent in 2012, compared with 5.1 percent in 2011. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) or spending was up 3.6 percent, compared with 5 percent in 2011.
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