< html > The Associated Press
Bolivar Commercial
 LATEST NEWS
 Top Stories
 U.S.
  Severe Weather
  Bird Flu
 World
  Castro
  Mideast Crisis
  Iraq
 Business
 Personal Finance
 Technology
 Sports
  Sports Columns
  NASCAR
  Baseball
  College Hoops
  NBA
  NHL
  Tennis
  Golf
 Entertainment
 Health
 Science
 Politics
 Washington
 Offbeat
 Podcasts
 Blogs
 Weather
 Raw News
 NEWS SEARCH
 
 Archive Search
 SPECIAL SECTIONS
 Multimedia Gallery
 AP Video Network
 Today
 in History
 Corrections
Sep 12, 11:10 AM EDT

US retail sales rise in August on auto sales


AP Photo
AP Photo/Richard Drew
Business Video

Buy AP Photo Reprints
Multimedia
A district summary of the Beige Book
Measuring economic stress by county nationwide
Mall malaise: shoppers browse, but don't buy
Unemployment by the numbers
Family struggles with father's unemployment
Saying an affordable goodbye
Hard times hit small car dealer
Latest Economic News
NY developer to invest $108 million in Puerto Rico

Ireland economy grows 7.7 percent, leads eurozone

Weak uptake for new eurozone stimulus program

Bank of England remains split on rates

French prime minister wins confidence vote

Egypt minister projects 6% growth in 3 years

World Bank: Palestinian economy to shrink in 2014

Ukraine, Scotland dent German investor optimism

Russian ruble drops to historic low amid sanctions

Eurozone economic growth forecast cut

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Auto buying drove U.S. retail sales higher in August, a possible sign that job growth in recent months has led to accelerated consumer spending.

The Commerce Department said Friday that seasonally adjusted retail sales rose 0.6 percent compared with the prior month. Sales are up 5 percent in the past 12 months. July sales were also revised upward from flat to a 0.3 percent increase.

Motor vehicles accounted for roughly half of the August increase. Buying also picked up at restaurants and for furniture, electronics, sporting goods and building materials.

Those gains were partially offset by falling sales at gasoline stations and department stores.

The figures suggest that Americans' reluctance to spend has faded somewhat, even though their wages have yet to increase by much. The increase in retail sales could boost overall economic growth because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the economic activity.

Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said that the sales increase points to stronger economic growth through the end of the year and start of 2015.

"With further jobs gains, rises in income growth and a loosening in credit conditions in the pipeline, consumption growth should strengthen in the fourth quarter and into next year too," Dales said.

But there are mixed signals from other indicators regarding consumers.

The University of Michigan said its index of consumer sentiment rose to 82.5 in August from 81.8 in July. But much of that increase was due to greater optimism about jobs, rising incomes, and increasing wealth among higher-income groups.

The pace of hiring slipped in August after several months of strong gains.

Employers added just 142,000 jobs last month, well below the 212,000 average of the previous 12 months. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, from 6.2 percent. But that was because more people without jobs stopped looking for one and were no longer counted as unemployed.

The largest drop in hiring last month occurred in retail, which shed 8,400 jobs after gaining 21,000 in July.

Wage gains have been sluggish since the recession ended in 2009 and that's led many people to be more cautious about spending money. Average hourly pay rose 6 cents to $24.53 in August. That's only 2.1 percent higher than a year ago and barely ahead of the overall 2 percent inflation rate.

Yet consumers felt comfortable enough with their financial situation to ramp up auto buying last month. A stunning 1.58 million motor vehicles were sold last month, giving the auto industry its best August in 11 years, according to a separate measure by Ward's Automotive. That represented a 5.4 percent increase in auto buying over the past 12 months.

Chrysler sales soared 20 percent, while Nissan jumped nearly 12 percent. Total sales last month ran at an annual rate of 17.5 million, the highest since January of 2006.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.