U.S. personal income up, consumer spending down.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis today released personal income and outlays data for April. The memo states,

Personal income increased $1.97 trillion (10.5 percent) in April according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (tables 3 and 5). Disposable personal income (DPI) increased $2.13 trillion (12.9 percent) and personal consumption expenditures(PCE) decreased $1.89 trillion (13.6 percent).

Real DPI increased 13.4 percent in April and Real PCE decreased 13.2 percent (tables 5 and 7). The PCE price index decreased 0.5 percent (table 9). Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index decreased 0.4 percent.

The BEA reports federal aid provided much of the lift in personal income.

The increase in personal income in April primarily reflected an increase in government social benefits to persons as payments were made to individuals from federal economic recovery programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the lockdown contributed to the spending reduction.

The $1,662.1 billion decrease in real PCE in April reflected a $758.3 billion decrease in spending for goods and a $943.3 billion decrease in spending for services (table 7). Within goods, decreases in all subcomponents were led by a decrease in food and beverages. Within services, the largest contributors to the decrease were spending for health care as well as food services and accommodations.

Calculate Risk reports,

The increase in personal income was way above expectations,  and the decrease in PCE was below expectations.

The Associated Press reports the extraordinary magnitude of the spending drop.

U.S. consumer spending plunged by a record-shattering 13.6% in April as the viral pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a deep recession.

Last month’s spending decline was far worse than the revised 6.9% drop in March, which itself had set a record for the steepest one-month fall in records dating to 1959. Friday’s Commerce Department figures reinforced evidence that the economy is gripped by the worst downturn in decades, with consumers unable or too anxious to spend much.

More bad news may show up next month.

The depth of the spending drop is particularly damaging because consumer spending is the primary driver of the economy, accounting for about 70% of economic activity. Last month’s figure signaled that the April-June quarter will be especially grim, with the economy thought to be shrinking at an annual rate near 40%. That would be, by far, the worst quarterly contraction on record.

Further, the Commerce Department reported Thursday that the U.S. economy shrank 5% in Q1.

The U.S. economy shrank at an even faster pace than initially estimated in the first three months of this year with economists continuing to expect a far worse outcome in the current April-June quarter.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, fell at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter, a bigger decline than the 4.8% drop first estimated a month ago.

It was the biggest quarterly decline since an 8.4% fall in the fourth quarter of 2008 during the depths of the financial crisis.

A bleak end to the week.