November real personal consumption expenditures were up 2.8 percent from the same month last year suggesting that consumer spending in the 4th quarter of 2014 will lead to stronger spending in 2015. A major factor in the acceleration in consumer spending is the Money Anxiety Index, which is showing that the current level of financial anxiety among consumers, at 67.0, is the lowest since the eve of the Great Recession in December of 2007.   

The decrease in the level of financial anxiety among consumers is attributed mainly to strong employment figures and growth in personal income.  The November employment figures show that the economy added 321,000 nonfarm jobs, which is the strongest monthly gain in nearly three years increasing the three-month employment average to a gain of 278,000 per month.  Personal income increased 0.4 percent in November from an upwardly revised 0.3 percent growth in October. Additionally, wages and salaries increased 0.5 percent in November.

November advance retail sales improved across the board and along with the upward revision in October sales to 0.5 percent, the projection for this holiday season is very strong.  Year-to-date, the increase in motor vehicles and parts is up 8.6 percent, building material and garden equipment and supplies up 7.8 percent, non-store retailers up 8.7 percent, electronics and appliance, up 6.9 percent and food services and drinking places up 6.7 percent.

Dr. Dan Geller is an expert in behavioral finance and the author of the book Money Anxiety.  He was the first to establish the link between the level of financial anxiety and consumer behavior showing how consumers shift their savings and spending habits based on their level of money anxiety.   He can be reached at drgeller@moneyanxiety.com



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