WASHINGTON – Americans spent freely for a second straight month in July, driving their personal savings rate down to the lowest level on record, the government reported Thursday.
The Commerce Department (search) said that consumer spending rose 1 percent, matching the strong June increase. Both months saw spending driven higher as consumers flocked to auto showrooms to take advantage of attractive incentive offers automakers were using to reduce a backlog of unsold cars.
Incomes rose a smaller 0.3 percent in July, down from a 0.5 percent gain in June. The combination of a surge in spending and slower income growth sent the personal savings falling to a minus 0.6 percent, the lowest level since the government began keeping these records in 1959.