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Personal income continues to rise

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We’re as shocked as you. The After falling dramatically early this year, total personal income is climbing again in the United States and poised to accelerate further in 2010, according to new government and private reports. The Baltimore Sun reports that total after-tax income increased in November for the third straight month. According to the paper, taking those three months together, the rate of increase after adjusting for inflation was 1.7%, a clear improvement from a 10% plunge late last year.

“The gain was all the more notable because it came in the face of double-digit unemployment and continued uneasiness about the future among both consumers and business leaders. At the same time, continuing high unemployment and the fact that millions of Americans are still experiencing stagnant or falling incomes despite the overall increase means the impact of the gain may be limited, both economically and politically.”

However, the Sun notes last month’s income gains were modest by historical standards, with the prospect that gains will remain modest in the near term. In addition, many workers are now saving more than in past years. Both trends reinforce the likelihood that consumer spending and the economy as a whole are likely to remain lackluster for some time, in the view of many economists.