Despite a slowdown in job creation last month, U.S. consumers appeared to have spent more last month, suggesting the economic recovery is progressing at a steady pace on par with recent months. The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index increased in March, marking only the third monthly gain over the past year. Specifically, real incomes declined by 0.1 percent in February even as consumer spending climbed 0.3 percent. The savings rate declined from 4.7 percent to 3.7 percent over the past two months. Gas prices also continue to be a significant impediment to spending trends, and analysts appear largely uncertain about when prices may once again dip. The news bodes well for lenders and debt collection
firms, as higher spending usually portends gains in debt accumulation. However, economists are eagerly awaiting reports for Spring activity to solidify their growth projections. "The Index turned upward as the pace of declining new home prices slowed," said Carl Steidtmann, index author and chief economist at Deloitte. "Despite this improved performance, there is little evidence the housing market is picking up. On the positive side, initial unemployment claims continue to move lower from a year ago."