What Americans don't make, they can't spend
MANY of West Virginia's public school students will be headed back to their classrooms this week, so the back-to-school shopping season is well underway.
Experts don't know what to expect from these fundamental drivers of the American economy.
The National Retail Federation reported that U.S. households are planning to spend about 8 percent less for this year's back-to-school shopping season because of the bumpy economic recovery.
"The potentially lackluster spending is one more signal that consumers are conflicted about the strength of the recovery and the stability of their buying power," Bloomberg News said.
The federation said total back-to-school spending could total $26.7 billion this year. That translates to about $634.78 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics - down from $688.62 last year, it said.
"There is no question that the economy still has a tight grip on Americans' spending decisions," said the federation's chief executive officer, Matthew Shay.
Behind the projected retail figures were disappointing statistics on job creation.
The Wall Street Journal reported employers added 162,000 positions in July, "once again led by lowerwage positions in retail and food service industries."
Economists had predicted a rise of 183,000 jobs.
"Average hourly earnings also fell for the first time in nine months," the Journal said.
"Friday's [Labor Department] report also said that average earnings fell by 2 cents to $23.98 an hour. . . " The American economy has expanded at only a 1.4 percent annualized pace in the first half of 2013.
"Consumer spending is a key driver of growth in the U.S. economy, representing more than two-thirds of economic demand," the Journal said. "And with both government spending and exports weak in recent months, the economy is relying ever more heavily on consumers for fuel."
But Americans' disposable income, adjusted for inflation, fell for the first time in months.
What Americans don't make, they can't spend.
Which augurs poorly for the argument that higher taxes are just the ticket in this situation.