WASHINGTON - U.S. personal incomes rose in March, boosted by wage gains and Census hiring, and outpaced spending growth for the first time in five months, government data showed Friday.

Incomes grew 0.7% in March after rising 0.4% in February, the Commerce Department said. Spending rose 0.5%, after a February increase of 1.4%.

The income gain did little to raise the personal savings rate, which is still close to its lowest level since monthly record keeping began in 1959. The savings rate rose to 0.4% from February's record low of 0.2%.

The Commerce Department report reaffirmed that spending is growing faster than Federal Reserve policymakers would like to see.

"We're seeing very large increases in consumer spending in the fourth quarter and in the first quarter, even taking out auto sales," Michael Moskow, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, told reporters last week. "You're still seeing a very large rate of increase we believe is beyond the rate the economy can" sustain.

- Bloomberg News

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