Economy Watch: Incomes Up, Holiday Spending Too?

Job growth in October might have been in the middle range, but employers are finally paying workers an increasing amount.

Job growth in October might have been in the middle range, but employers are finally paying workers an increasing amount, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the month, average hourly earnings for all employees on private payrolls rose by 10 cents to $25.92, following an 8-cent increase in September. The October bump was the largest monthly increase since the recession.

Year-over-year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.8 percent, which puts the increase above the tepid rate of inflation, which has been only 1.5 percent over the same period. But does that mean American workers are going to increase their spending, especially as the all-important (for retailers) holiday sales season gets under way—or is already, depending on who’s going the calculating?

Spending is expected to be healthy this year, if not record-breaking. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual consumer spending survey recently conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, consumers plan to spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season this year. Spending will includes gifts for others, self-spending, food, flowers, decorations and greeting cards, and this year total planned spending is second only to the record total spending in 2015, at $952.58

Consumers will shop around, the NRF said, splitting their time almost evenly between three top destinations: department stores (57 percent), online (also 57 percent) and discount stores (56 percent). The survey found 45 percent plan to visit a grocery store/supermarket, 34 percent will shop at clothing stores, 27 percent at electronics stores and 23 percent at small or local businesses. Ten percent of those shopping plan to visit outlet stores, a new category added to the survey this year.