Middle-Income Americans May Fuel Spending in 2015, Zentner Says

Consumer spending, long buoyed by the most affluent Americans, will get more of a boost from those in the lower- and middle-income groups this year, Morgan Stanley Senior U.S. Economist Ellen Zentner said.

After years of stagnant wages, pay should increase about 2.5 percent in 2015, Zentner said today during a panel discussion at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York. Consumers are feeling more secure as unemployment drops and lower gasoline prices free up more cash.

“This is a consumer in transition,” Zentner said.

The largest-ever group of 20- to 24-year-olds also will alter typical consumption patterns because they will spend more on mobile phones and other services while carrying more debt from school. Because of sheer numbers, the group will fuel gains in the housing market, Zentner said. They will increase demand for the multifamily dwellings that provide rental units and boost single-family home prices when they enter their prime home buying years, she said.

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