WASHINGTON — Flat incomes suggest more weakness ahead in consumer spending, reinforcing concerns about a ho-hum holiday shopping season and a sluggish economic recovery.
"This recovery is going to be very weak. Consumers are in no position or mood to spend. Their wages are down and they can't get credit," said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University's Smith School of Business.
Concerns about the economy sparked by disappointing government data on spending and incomes sent stocks down Friday, erasing the previous day's big gains. The Dow Jones industrial average lost about 250 points, and broader indexes also fell.
The Commerce Department reported that personal incomes were stagnant in September while the all-important wage and salary category dropped 0.2 percent, as unemployment rose.
Consumer spending — which accounts for 70 percent of total economic activity — dropped 0.5 percent, the first decline in five months and the biggest since December.