This Week's Economic Roundup

Consumer spending and personal incomes are on the rise, while hiring at small firms continues to fall. Here's a look at this week's economic developments and how they may impact your business.

Hiring Down

Small-business hiring decreased slightly in August, according to the latest monthly SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard, released Thursday.

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By the end of August, SurePayroll's hiring index had dropped 5 points to 10,431 nationwide. Small-business hiring has fallen six of the last seven months.

In a SurePayroll survey of 476 small-business owners, only 12 percent of respondents indicated that they had hired a new employee in August, while 6.5 percent said they downsized their staff during the month. More than 81 percent said they ended August with the same number of employees they had when the month began.

For most of 2006, small-business hiring has been flat or slightly depressed. Year-to-date, hiring has decreased 0.3 percent.

Consumer Spending, Personal Incomes Rise

In July, personal income increased 0.5 percent to $60.2 billion, compared with a 0.6 percent increase in June, according to a report released Thursday by the Commerce Department.
Disposable personal income increased 0.7 percent to $63.9 billion, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in June, the report said.

Incomes were up 7.1 percent over July 2005. Spurred in part by an increase in personal income, personal consumption grew twice as fast in July as it did in June.

In July, personal consumption expenditures increased 0.8 percent to $78.7 billion, compared with a 0.4 percent increase in June. This represents the sharpest increase in consumer spending since January.

Chain Stores Busier

Buoyed by back-to-school shopping and lower gas prices, same-store sales in U.S. chain stores rose 0.6 percent for the week ended Aug. 26, according to a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities.

U.S. chain stores reported sales 3.6 percent higher than during the same week in 2005.
In July, U.S. chain stores reported sales 3.5 percent greater than the previous July, according to council's index. Drug stores reported sales growing an average of 8.2 percent, while specialty-apparel chains reported sales growth of 1.3 percent.

For August, the council predicts a 3 percent to 3.5 percent increase in sales over August 2005.

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