Washington Americans' incomes, boosted by huge federal farm payments, increased by the largest amount in 13 months in September while consumer spending rose at the fastest pace since February.
The Commerce Department said Monday that personal incomes rose by a strong 1.1 percent last month while spending, propelled by heavy demand for durable goods such as autos, was up 0.8 percent.
Economists said the new report showed that while the overall economy slowed sharply in the summer, the consumer sector still had plenty of strength, led by big gains in income that are helping consumers continue to buy despite rising debt burdens and a weakening stock market.
"Consumers have a ton of money to spend and that is exactly what they did," said Joel Naroff, head of a Holland, Pa., economic consulting firm.
The 1.1 percent rise in incomes was the largest since a 1.3 percent jump in October 1999.