WASHINGTON -- Personal income rose in April at the fastest pace in five months, helped by a big jump in employment, while consumer spending slowed a bit, the government said yesterday.
The Commerce Department said incomes rose by 0.7 percent last month, the best performance this year. Analysts said it reflected the strong gain of 274,000 jobs last month and a rise in the workweek, which both boosted private wage growth.
Consumer spending rose by a lower-than-expected 0.6 percent in April but the government revised the March gain to a stronger 0.9 percent, up from the 0.6 percent increase that had been originally reported for March.
In other economic news, the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment fell to 86.9 in May, down from 87.7 in April. It was the lowest monthly reading in two years and was blamed on rising energy bills.
But with gasoline prices retreating from their earlier highs, analysts said consumer sentiment may start to perk up. ''Consumers may not be as confident as they had been, but that isn't keeping them from spending," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. ''Americans seem to have the idea that when you have a lot of stress, retail therapy is the cure."