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After Big Gain In February, Consumer Spending Rose Less In March

A large 0.9 percent gain in consumer spending from January to February was followed by a more modest 0.3 percent increase from February to March, the Bureau of Economic Analysis says.

Personal income, meanwhile, was up 0.4 percent in March. It had risen 0.3 percent in February.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the 0.4 percent income gain was better than expected and could bode well for consumer spending in coming months. And, it notes that the 0.9 percent spending increase in February was "the biggest gain in over 2 1/2 years." So some slowing in March might be understandable.

But, as Reuters says: "Monday's data suggested consumers ended the quarter spending less freely."

And since consumers purchase about 70 percent of all the goods and services produced, their demand is the economy's key driving force.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.