The latest confirmation that the US consumer is rapidly retrenching ahead of the great unknown which is the US fiscal cliff was the just released May data on Personal Spending and Income, both of which came in as expected, at 0.0% and 0.2% over the prior month. This was the lowest rate of increase in the Personal Spending rate since June 2011, when spending posted a -0.2% decline. This was to be expected considering the ongoing contraction on the income side: "Private wage and salary disbursements increased $1.1 billion in May, compared with an increase of $5.3 billion in April. Goods-producing industries' payrolls decreased $7.0 billion, in contrast to an increase of $5.6 billion; manufacturing payrolls decreased $4.5 billion, in contrast to an increase of $3.2 billion." The collapse in manufacturing wages was somewhat offset by gains in services: "Services-producing industries' payrolls increased $8.3 billion, in contrast to a decrease of $0.4 billion. Government wage and salary disbursements increased $0.3 billion, compared with an increase of $0.4 billion." And for the best indication of just how consumers feel about the economy, one just needs to look at the savings rate: at 3.9%, this was the highest savings rate since January as any free money enters not the economy, but bank checking accounts and counterparty risk-free mattresses.
As for the rate of change in spending: