NAM: Americans spending more and using credit cards

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Total Consumer Credit Outstanding Graphic

Americans seem less cautious about using credit cards for purchases and the saving rate dropped to 3.1 percent in September — its lowest level since the start of the Great Recession.

The Federal Reserve Board reported last week that U.S. consumer credit outstanding rose 6.6 percent at the annual rate in September, picking up from a 4.2 percent gain in August.

During the past 12 months consumer credit has increased by 5.6 percent, according to National Association of Manufacturers chief economist Chad Moutray.

This suggests that Americans are less cautious in their spending and more willing to use credit cards for purchases than just a few months ago, Moutray wrote in a weekly report.

That report mirrors data showing a 1 percent jump in personal spending in September, its fastest monthly pace since August 2009, with year-over-year growth of 4.4 percent

On the other hand, consumer confidence pulled back in November and labor markets continue showing signs of tightening, Moutray wrote.

After reaching its highest point since January 2004 in October (100.7), the University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to 97.8 — well below the anticipated 100, Moutray reported.

Manufacturing job openings dipped from 435,000 in August — the highest level since January 2001 — to 425,000 in September. Overall, however, the data suggest that manufacturers are posting new jobs at a very strong rate, with an improved economic outlook boosting employment growth. To put the current number in perspective, job openings in the sector were 326,000 one year ago.