News Release

BEA 20—49

Personal Income and Outlays, August 2020

Personal income decreased $543.5 billion (2.7 percent) in August according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (tables 3 and 5). Disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $570.9 billion (3.2 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $141.1 billion (1.0 percent).

Real DPI decreased 3.5 percent in August and Real PCE increased 0.7 percent (tables 5 and 7). The PCE price index increased 0.3 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.3 percent..

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on August 2020 Personal Income and Outlays
The August estimate for personal income and outlays was impacted by the response to the spread of COVID-19. Federal economic recovery payments slowed, as pandemic-related assistance programs begin to wind down. The full economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be quantified in the personal income and outlays estimate because the impacts are generally embedded in source data and cannot be separately identified. For more information, see Effects of Selected Federal Pandemic Response Programs on Personal Income.

The decrease in personal income in August was more than accounted for by a decrease in unemployment insurance benefits, based primarily on unemployment claims data from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (table 3). In particular, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program which provided a temporary weekly supplemental payment of $600 for those receiving unemployment benefits expired on July 31. For more information, see “How will federal government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic affect unemployment insurance benefits?”.

Partially offsetting the decrease in unemployment insurance benefits was an increase in compensation in August. Government wage and salary disbursements increased $17.5 billion in August, following an increase of $14.5 billion in July. Temporary and intermittent Census decennial workers boosted government wages and salaries by $10.8 billion in August.

Apr. May. Jun. Jul. Aug.
Percent change from preceding month
Personal income:  
     Current dollars 12.2 -4.2  -1.2  0.5  -2.7 
Disposable personal income:  
     Current dollars 14.8  -4.8  -1.5  0.3  -3.2 
     Chained (2012) dollars 15.5  -5.0  -2.0  0.0  -3.5 
Personal consumption expenditures (PCE):  
     Current dollars -12.7  8.7  6.5  1.5 1.0
     Chained (2012) dollars -12.3  8.5  5.9  1.1  0.7 
Price indexes:  
     PCE -0.5 0.2  0.5 0.4 0.3
     PCE, excluding food and energy -0.4 0.2   0.3  0.4 0.3
Price indexes: Percent change from month one year ago
     PCE 0.5 0.5  0.9 1.1 1.4 
     PCE, excluding food and energy 0.9 1.0  1.1 1.4 1.6 

The $86.1 billion increase in real PCE in August reflected an increase of $87.9 billion in spending for services that was partly offset by a $10.3 billion decrease in spending for goods (table 7). Within services, the leading contributors to the increase were spending for food services and accommodations as well as health care. Spending for food services and accommodations was based on Census Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) data and Smith Travel Research data. Within health care, both hospital and outpatient services increased, based on volume data for hospital services and outpatient visits as well as credit card data. Within goods, the leading contributor to the decrease was spending for food and beverages purchased for off-premises consumption, based on Census MRTS data. Detailed information on monthly real PCE spending can be found on Table 2.3.6U.

Personal outlays increased $152.9 billion in August (table 3). Personal saving was $2.43 trillion in August and the personal saving rate—personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income—was 14.1 percent (table 1).

Updates to Personal Income and Outlays

Estimates have been updated for April through July. Revised and previously published changes from the preceding month for current-dollar personal income, and for current-dollar and chained (2012) dollar DPI and PCE, are shown below.

  Change from preceding month
June  July 
Previous Revised Previous Revised Previous Revised Previous Revised
(Billions of dollars) (Percent) (Billions of dollars) (Percent)
Personal income:  
     Current dollars -205.1  -239.1 -1.0 -1.2 70.5  91.9 0.4 0.5
Disposable personal income:  
     Current dollars -238.3  -274.1 -1.3  -1.5  39.9 62.3 0.2 0.3
     Chained (2012) dollars -293.5  -327.4  -1.8  -2.0  -15.6 -5.9 -0.1 0.0
Personal consumption expenditures:  
     Current dollars  809.1  849.2  6.2  6.5  267.6 213.9  1.9 1.5
     Chained (2012) dollars 673.5 707.9 5.7  5.9  200.6  143.6  1.6 1.1 

Next release: October 30, 2020 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Personal Income and Outlays: September 2020