But many retailers have said in recent weeks that shoppers have been reluctant to spend freely for back-to-school shopping. According to a tally of 10 retail chains by the International Council of Shopping Centers, sales rose 3.6 percent last month. That’s down from a 6 percent gain for in August 2012.
Job gains have been steady this year. But the pace of hiring has been too weak to rapidly lower the unemployment rate, which is 7.3 percent four years after the Great Recession officially ended.
Americans are also seeing little growth in their wages. At the same time, they are grappling with higher taxes this year. The combination has limited their spending power and kept the economy from accelerating.