The Bureau of Economic Analysis has found some change between the cushions of the collective U.S. sofa. In its news release on personal income and spending today, it updated its past statistics back through 2007. It turns out that Americans made more money than was thought, and saved more too.
Let's start with personal income. The following chart has two lines. The orange is the new data, and the purple is what was previously reported:
You can see that, since the recession began in late 2007, income was actually higher than BEA thought. If you average the variance since December 2007, you find that the average difference was $155 billion. That's not a significant revision, as it raises income by more than 1% for those periods.
You see a similar variance with saving:
Here, if you average the variance from December 2007, then you find that saving was actually $187 billion higher on average. This is even more significant than it was for income, however, on a percentage basis. That average represents a 40% more than the original saving value recorded for May 2010. You can also see that BEA's original data more drastically underestimated saving over the past several months than it did earlier in this period, as the gap between the two lines grow as you more from left to right.
It's hard to characterize a big revision like this as good or bad news. But it's certainly nice to see that Americans have made more money and saved more money than we thought. Of course, the flipside is that personal consumption was even lower than anticipated, which implies that consumers were less willing to spend during the recession than we believed. Here's that chart:
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.