April 29 - Americans spent $21 billion more in March than in February, mostly on heating bills, the increase of only 0.2 percent points to sluggish growth in consumer spending. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Your Daily Digit today is $21.0 billion. This is how much more Americans spent in March compared to the previous month, according to the Commerce Department. It's more than the flat figure economists had expected, but, at 0.2 percent, that's the slowest spending growth of the year and still points to muted spending. The unexpected uptick came from services as Americans shelled out more for heating in an atypically cold winter this year. But they blew less on durable goods like cars, furniture, and toys, and nondurables, like food and clothes. The Fed helped a little bit by keeping inflation soft that, in result, boosted people's spending power. But economists say that, as small as it is, the growth momentum won't last amid higher payroll taxes reinstated at the start of the year.