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While businesses have created a trickle of new jobs this year, that has produced only a modest revival of wage growth - not enough to fully replace the substantial support consumers received from unemployment benefits and other government transfers since the recession, said Scott Hoyt, an economist at Moody’s Economy.com.

“Cash, or the lack of it, is the primary factor holding back spending” since the spring, he said, noting that is partly because the record share of consumer income that came from government transfers has been on the decline recently.

Jobless benefits are one of the most powerful ways to boost the economy, according to Moody’s Economy.com, which estimates that every $1 in benefits produces a $1.67 increase in the nation’s economic output within a year. The boost is strong because unemployed workers spend nearly all their unemployment checks quickly and save little of the money.

Another potential source of income for consumers - the gains on assets such as houses and stocks - also went into reverse recently, taking yet another prop from under the economy that had helped to spur stronger consumer spending earlier this year.

Consumers tend to spend more when they feel wealthier as a result of gains on their stocks and home values. The setback in housing has been especially sharp since the expiration of a housing tax credit on April 30.

Housing sales, construction and prices have all fallen precipitously. Another sign of the collapse in housing came on Monday, when the National Association of Home Builders reported that confidence among developers fell to the lowest level since March 2009.

c Kara Rowland contributed to this report.