News Release

BEA 21-30

Personal Income and Outlays, May 2021

Personal income decreased $414.3 billion (2.0 percent) in May according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (tables 3 and 5). Disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $436.3 billion (2.3 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $2.9 billion (less than 0.1 percent).

Real DPI decreased 2.8 percent in May and Real PCE decreased 0.4 percent; goods decreased 2.0 percent and services increased 0.4 percent (tables 5 and 7). The PCE price index increased 0.4 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.5 percent (table 9).

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May
Percent change from preceding month
Personal income:  
     Current dollars 10.2  -6.9 20.9 -13.1 -2.0 
Disposable personal income:  
     Current dollars 11.5  -7.8  23.4  -14.6  -2.3 
     Chained (2012) dollars 11.2  -8.1  22.8  -15.1  -2.8 
Personal consumption expenditures (PCE):  
     Current dollars 3.3  -1.0  5.0  0.9  0.0 
     Chained (2012) dollars 3.0  -1.3  4.4  0.3  -0.4 
Price indexes:  
     PCE 0.3 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.4
     PCE, excluding food and energy 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.7 0.5
Price indexes: Percent change from month one year ago
     PCE 1.4 1.6 2.4  3.6  3.9 
     PCE, excluding food and energy 1.4 1.4 1.9 3.1  3.4 


COVID-19 Impact on May 2021 Personal Income and Outlays
The estimate for May personal income and outlays reflected the continued economic recovery, reopening of establishments, and continued government response related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decrease in personal income for May reflected declines in pandemic-related assistance programs. 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 May primarily reflected a decrease in government social benefits (table 3). Within government social benefits, "other" social benefits decreased as economic impact payments made to individuals from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 continued, but at a lower level than in April. Unemployment insurance also decreased, led by decreases in payments from the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

The $2.9 billion increase in current dollar PCE in May reflected an increase of $74.3 billion in spending for services that was mostly offset by a $71.5 billion decrease in spending for goods (table 3). Within services, increases were widespread, led by spending for recreation services, food services and accommodations, as well as housing and utilities. A decrease in spending on motor vehicles and parts was the leading contributor to the decrease in goods. Detailed information on monthly PCE spending can be found on Table 2.3.5U.

Personal outlays increased $5.5 billion in May (table 3). Personal saving was $2.29 trillion in May and the personal saving rate—personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income—was 12.4 percent (table 1).

The PCE price index for May increased 3.9 percent from one year ago, reflecting increases in both goods and services (table 11). Energy prices increased 27.4 percent while food prices increased 0.4 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index for May increased 3.4 percent from one year ago.

Annual Update of the National Economic Accounts
BEA will release results from the 2021 annual update of the National Economic Accounts, which includes the National Income and Product Accounts as well as the Industry Economic Accounts, later this year. Updated monthly personal income and outlays will be released on July 30, 2021, along with the June 2021 estimate. For details, see Information on the 2021 Annual Update of the National Economic Accounts..

Updates to Personal Income and Outlays

Estimates have been updated for January through April. 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
March April 
Previous Revised Previous Revised Previous Revised Previous Revised
(Billions of dollars) (Percent) (Billions of dollars) (Percent)
Personal income:  
     Current dollars 4,214.0 4,224.8  20.9  20.9 -3,205.3 -3,201.9 -13.1 -13.1
Disposable personal income:  
     Current dollars 4,183.6 4,193.5  23.4  23.4  -3,217.2 -3,224,3  -14.6 -14.6
     Chained (2012) dollars 3,602.2 3,609.9  22.7  22.8  -2,937.9 -2,949.5 -15.1 -15.1
Personal consumption expenditures:  
     Current dollars 690.4  741.4 4.7  5.0  80.3 141.1 0.5 0.9
     Chained (2012) dollars 536.2  580.5 4.1  4.4  -11.9  36.6 -0.1 0.3


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Next release: July 30, 2021 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
Personal Income and Outlays, June 2021 and Annual Update

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