Personal Income decreased 7.1% in February, Spending decreased 1.0%

The BEA released the Personal Income and Outlays report for January:

Personal income income decreased $1,516.6 billion (7.1 percent) in February according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $1,532.3 billion (8.0 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) decreased $149.0 billion (1.0 percent).

Real DPI decreased 8.2 percent in February and Real PCE decreased 1.2 percent; goods decreased 3.3 percent and services decreased 0.1 percent. The PCE price index increased 0.2 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.1 percent.
emphasis added

The February PCE price index increased 1.6 percent year-over-year and the February PCE price index, excluding food and energy, increased 1.4 percent year-over-year.

The following graph shows real Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) through February 2021 (2012 dollars). Note that the y-axis doesn’t start at zero to better show the change.

Personal Consumption Expenditures Click on graph for larger image.

The dashed red lines are the quarterly levels for real PCE.

Personal income was at expectations,  and the decrease in PCE was slightly below expectations.

Using the two-month method to estimate Q1 PCE growth, PCE was increasing at a 6.3% annual rate in Q1 2021. (using the mid-month method, PCE was  increasing at 3.3%). However, these methods are understating growth in Q1, due to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Both income and spending increased sharply in March, from BofA yesterday:

“Total card spending, as measured by BAC aggregated card data, increased 45% 1-yr and 23% 2-yr for the 7-days ending Mar 20.

The strong gain owes to the latest stimulus: total card spending for stimulus recipients is running 40% above the Feb avg.”