Consumer spending, incomes dipped last year

You don't need an expert to tell you that consumer spending plummeted in the wake of the recession - much less that wider market conditions were damaged and continue to struggle today.

You don't need an expert to tell you that consumer spending plummeted in the wake of the recession - much less that wider market conditions were damaged and continue to struggle today.

However, when the statistics are observed on a larger scale, the impact of the Great Recession is much more vivid. According to data released Friday by the Labor Department, consumer spending fell by 2 percent last year. Incomes also plummeted by 0.6 percent - slightly less than the 1.1 percent dip noted the year before.

"Economists had hoped a Social Security tax cut would boost spending this year," The Associated Press reports. "It gave most families an extra $1,000 to $2,000 in take-home pay. However, that gain was offset by a sharp spike in global oil prices, which drove gasoline prices higher beginning in January."

Unemployment, slow wage growth and economic uncertainty have been the primary reason for such weak consumer activity since the recession began. As most economists have projected jobless rates to remain high for the next several years, prospects of renewed consumer activity remain sparse.