Personal income up 1 percent in January

Personal income in the United States climbed 1 percent in the first month of 2011, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

The new data marks a stronger increase in that sector than experienced in the last several months. The January number is twice as high as any other number in the last five months. In December, personal income rose just 0.4 percent, it rose another 0.3 percent in November, 0.5 percent in October, and did not grow at all in September. The payroll tax cut included in the tax package passed by Congress at the end of last year was a major contributor to the income boost, the department said.

Overall, personal income increased 3 percent over all of 2010, contrasted with a 1.7 percent decrease in 2009.

The new data serves as the latest indication that the economy is recovering, albeit slowly and irregularly. Economic data over the last several months has generally skewed positive, but individual data points have been erratic, and data about the housing market generally continues to be negative.

Disposable personal income was also on the rise in January, climbing 0.7 percent, compared to 0.4 percent in December. That category actually decreased in September, falling 0.1 percent.

Personal saving was $677.1 billion in January, as opposed to $620.9 billion in December. The January savings rate represents 5.8 percent of disposable personal income, as opposed to December, when Americans saved 5.4 percent of their disposable income.