U.S. Consumer Spending up 5.6 Percent
But coronavirus could stall gains
American consumers increased their spending in June by a solid 5.6 percent, helping regain some of record plunge that occurred after the coronavirus struck hard in March and paralyzed the economy. But the virus' resurgence in much of the country could impede further gains.
Last month’s rise in consumer spending followed a seasonally adjusted 8.5 percent surge in May after spending had plunged the previous two months when the pandemic shuttered businesses, caused tens of millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a recession. So deep was the pullback in the spring that even with two months of gains, consumer spending was still down at a record annual rate of 34.6 percent in the April-June quarter.
Now, with confirmed viral infections rising in a majority of states, many businesses have had to pause their re-openings or close a second time and cut jobs, thereby putting consumers under renewed pressure. The number of laid-off Americans who have applied for unemployment benefits has topped 1 million for 19 straight weeks. All told, roughly 30 million people are out of work, the government says.
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