Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - MARKETPLACE -


“This morn­ing’s re­port pro­vides con­fir­ma­tion that the Amer­i­can con­sumer re­mains a key driver of eco­nomic growth as we slowly ap­proach the very im­por­tant hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son,” said Michael Dolega, a se­nior econ­o­mist at TD Bank.

Higher oil prices drove a

2.4 per­cent in­crease in sales at gas sta­tions last month, though pur­chases re­main down on a year-over-year ba­sis be­cause of pre­vi­ous price de­clines. Spend­ing at restau­rants im­proved 0.8 per­cent in Septem­ber. Auto deal­ers, build­ing ma­te­ri­als stores and fur­nish­ers notched monthly gains of 1 per­cent or more.

De­part­ment stores suf­fered a 0.7 per­cent sales de­cline in Septem­ber, part of a long-term slow­down for

the an­chor ten­ants at many shop­ping malls that in­creas­ingly must com­pete with on­line out­lets. But even on­line sales were soft. They rose a mere 0.3 per­cent in Septem­ber, com­pared with re­cent monthly gains av­er­ag­ing nearly 1 per­cent.

Some an­a­lysts took a more down­beat view of re­tail sales, not­ing that cor­po­rate prof­its are be­ing squeezed. And there are signs of fragility: Ex­clud­ing mo­tor ve­hi­cles and gaso­line,

sales rose just 0.3 per­cent in Septem­ber af­ter be­ing flat in Au­gust and de­clin­ing 0.2 per­cent in July.

“We con­tinue to be­lieve that pres­sure on cor­po­rate profit mar­gins will spur ag­gres­sive cost-cut­ting mea­sures which will in­creas­ingly im­pinge on the pace of job growth through the course of next year,” said Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. econ­o­mist at the con­sul­tant MFR. “We there­fore feel that the con­sumer is un­likely to

be able to sus­tain a sub­stan­tial ‘engine of growth’ role as we move through 2017.”

Con­sumer spend­ing, which ac­counts for about 70 per­cent of eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, in­creased at a 4.3 per­cent an­nual rate in the April-June quar­ter. That in­crease fu­eled much of the over­all es­ti­mated an­nu­al­ized eco­nomic growth rate of just 1.4 per­cent dur­ing the April-June quar­ter.

Em­ploy­ers added 156,000 jobs in Septem­ber. Un­em­ploy­ment

ticked up to 5 per­cent be­cause more peo­ple — drawn by re­cent job growth— be­gan look­ing for work.

In Septem­ber, av­er­age hourly pay rose 6 cents to $25.79 and is now 2.6 per­cent higher than it was a year ago. The pace of wage growth has strength­ened in re­cent months, with pay ris­ing at only about 2 per­cent an­nu­ally for much of the seven-year re­cov­ery from the Great Re­ces­sion.

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