Americans' personal incomes grew by 3.5 percent in 2012, compared with 5.1 percent growth the year before, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. And it says consumer spending rose 3.6 percent last year, vs. 5 percent in 2011.
But the year ended on one strong note: in December alone, incomes rose 2.6 percent from the month before. That's the biggest one-month rise in eight years, The Wall Street Journal says. Consumer spending was up 0.2 percent in December from November.
Also this morning, the Employment and Training Administration reported that there were 368,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week. That's up 38,000 from the week before. The increase is from a five-year low and puts claims back at "levels consistent with modest job growth," Reuters writes.
The week's big economic indicator is due Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. That's when the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue its figures on job growth and unemployment in January. According to Bloomberg News, economists expect to hear that there were 165,000 jobs added to payrolls (vs. 155,000 in December) and that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 percent.