Higher wages in January were offset by rising prices, forcing consumers to dig deeper into their savings, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
While personal income rose by 0.3 percent from December, the gains were matched by a 0.4 percent increase in prices, the report said. With spending up, personal savings dropped to negative 0.1 percent, or $6.2 billion. Personal savings, reflecting disposable personal income minus expenditures, have been negative since late 2007.
Last month's income gains were attributed to pay increases for government employees and seasonal bonuses, among other factors.
At the same time, employer contributions to social insurance surged by $6.2 billion in January, up from $1.5 billion a month earlier. The increase reflected higher employer-paid tax rates to state unemployment insurance funds, along with a larger social security taxable wage base, the report said.