Following today’s release of the latest Personal Income and Spending data, Wall Street was predictably focused on the changes in these two key series, which showed a modest jump in personal spending, which however was dwarfed by a record surge in personal income, to be expected in the month when Biden’s latest $1.9 trillion stimmy hit.
But while the change in the headline data was notable, what was far more remarkable was data showing just how increasingly more reliant on the US government the population has become.
We are referring, of course, to Personal Current Transfer payments which are essentially government sourced income such as unemployment benefits, welfare checks, and so on. In March, this number exploded to a mind-blowing $8.1 trillion annualized, which was not only double the $4.1 trillion from February, but was also $5 trillion above the pre-Covid trend where transfer receipts were approximately $3.2 trillion.
his means that excluding the $8.1 trillion surge in govt transfers, personal income excluding government handouts would be virtually unchanged from a year ago level at $16TN.
Stated simply, what all this means is that the government remains responsible for a third of all income, or 33.8 to be precise!
Putting that number in perspective, in the 1950s and 1960s, transfer payment were around 7%. This number rose in the low teens starting in the mid-1970s (right after the Nixon Shock ended Bretton-Woods and closed the gold window). The number then jumped again after the financial crisis, spiking to the high teens. And now, the coronavirus has officially sent this number to a record 34%!