Incomes up slightly, but spending stays flat
WASHINGTON – Americans’ income rose in December by the most in nine months, a hopeful sign for the economy after a year of weak wage gains. But consumers didn’t spend any more than they had in November.
Americans ended up saving all their additional income.
Economists noted that income rose last month largely because of strong hiring. The economy added 200,000 jobs in December. More jobs mean more income available to spend.
The best hope for the economy is further job gains. On Friday, the government is expected to report another solid month of hiring for January.
Income rose 0.5 percent from November to December, the Commerce Department said Monday. It was the sharpest increase since a similar gain in March.
The flat spending in December followed scant gains of 0.1 percent in both October and November.
For all of 2011, income barely rose. And consumers tapped their savings to spend more.
But in December, Americans boosted their savings. If they continue to save any additional income rather than spend it, the economy could slow.
And that could force employers to pull back on hiring.
Conference focuses on range management
Cowboy boots and hats are expected around Spokane this week with about 1,400 people in town for the Society for Range Management’s international conference at the Spokane Convention Center.
The convention brings together ranchers, scientists and others interested in grazing practices and rangeland issues.
The economic impact of the conference, which runs through Thursday, is estimated at $2.5 million. The trade show portion of the event is open to the public. For more information, visit www.rangelands.org/ spokane2012/.
From staff reports
Venezuela brings home $9 billion in gold
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela repatriated a final shipment of gold from foreign banks Monday, saying the country has withdrawn a total of $9 billion in its gold reserves and moved it to the country’s Central Bank.
The shipment of 14 metric tons (15 tons) brought the total amount of gold shipped to Venezuela since November to 160 metric tons (176 tons), Central Bank President Nelson Merentes said.
Merentes said about 85 percent of Venezuela’s gold reserves are now held in the country.
While some economists have questioned the move, Chavez has said having the gold in Venezuela will help protect the oil-exporting country from economic troubles in the U.S. and Europe.