Economists: Economy may be growing faster
WASHINGTON - One economist says it looks like the impact of higher Social Security taxes and higher gasoline prices "hasn't been too bad."
Paul Dales of Capital Economics is reacting to today's report on retail sales. The Commerce Department says Americans boosted their retail spending by 1.1 percent last month compared with the previous month.
The spending increase came despite the higher Social Security taxes that took effect at the start of the year.
About half the jump reflected higher gasoline prices -- but even when that factor is excluded, retail sales rose by 0.6 percent.
Economists are encouraged by the stronger-than-expected gains. Some say the economy may be growing at a faster rate than expected in the current quarter.
Auto sales rose 1.1 percent after a January increase of 0.4 percent.
Sales at general merchandise stores, which include major department stores and big discount stores, rose 0.5 percent. But the department store category fell 1 percent.