American Wages, Salaries Post Modest Gain in July

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Americans' personal income rose 0.4 percent last month, despite only a modest gain in wages and salaries, the government reported Monday.

The Commerce Department said that the July income gain matched a 0.4 percent June increase with both months showing a rebound from a 0.7 percent May decline, which had been the first setback in more than two years.

With more income, Americans also increased their spending last month by 0.4 percent, which matched the June increase. Both months were down from a 0.7 percent May gain.

The income figures have been buffeted this year by delays in getting tax refund checks delivered by the Internal Revenue Service.

Disposable, or after-tax, income rose 0.4 percent in July after plunging 2.5 percent in June. However, the June drop reflected the absence of a big surge in refund payments made in May. Analysts said the July figure more accurately reflected the underlying trend for after-tax income gains.

The personal income report for July, which showed steady if unspectacular gains, follows a string of economic barometers that have pointed to weaker activity last month.

Unemployment remained stuck at 7.3 percent for the sixth straight month and retail sales, industrial production and housing construction all showed weakness.

These figures represented a setback to Reagan administration hopes for a sharp rebound in economic activity in the second half of the year. …