Americans' incomes rose solidly in August but their spending went up faster, pulling the nation's personal savings rate down to a record monthly low.
The Commerce Department reported today that personal income, which includes wages, interest and government benefits, grew by 0.4 percent last month, slightly faster than the 0.3 percent rise many analysts were anticipating.
At the same time, spending rose by a brisk 0.6 percent, a little more brisk than the 0.5 gain analysts were expecting.
In July, Americans' incomes grew by 0.3 percent but their spending rose twice as fast, by 0.6 percent.
Disposable income -- what is left after taxes -- rose in August for the second straight month by 0.3 percent.
All that spending drove down Americans' personal savings rate -- savings as a percentage of after-tax income -- to a negative 0.4 percent in August, an all-time monthly low since such recordkeeping began in 1959.
Still, August's rate may not provide a clear picture of savings, economists have said. That's because the calculation doesn't take into account gains realized from such things as rising stocks and higher real-estate values.