Consumer spending remained flat last month, as higher prices cut into a modest increase in wages, the Commerce Department reported this week.

Personal income in August rose by 0.5 percent to a total of $61.5 billion, while private sector wages climbed to $24.5 billion from $16.3 billion in July, the report said. Total income after taxes declined last month after getting a boost from federal tax rebate checks issued earlier this year.

With the bulk of the tax rebate checks now spent or in the bank, consumer spending leveled off in July and was unchanged in August -- the first month of flat consumer spending since February.

Excluding food and energy prices, so-called core inflation rose by 0.2 percent in August and is up by 2.6 percent on the year, the sharpest increase in over a decade.