U.S. consumer spending grew briskly in February as incomes rose at the fastest pace since December 2000, the government said Friday, signaling the nascent economic recovery is picking up speed.

U.S. consumer spending increased 0.6 percent last month to $7.25 billion after a 0.5 percent gain in January.

Meanwhile, personal income also grew 0.6 percent in February to total $8.88 billion following a 0.5 percent rise in January.

Both figures outpaced the expectations of private analysts and added to other data that have indicated a surprisingly strong momentum to the U.S. economy as it climbs out of a mild recession that began last March.