The millions of economic stimulus payments gave a massive jolt to household finanances in May, sending after-tax incomes up by the largest amount in 33 years.

The payments helped boost consumer spending by the largest amount in six months.

The Commerce Department reported that disposable incomes, the amount left after paying taxes, surged by 5.7 percent last month. It was the biggest increase since May 1975, reflecting $48.1 billion in rebate payments made last month. The surge in incomes helped boost consumer spending by 0.8 percent, the biggest gain since last November.

The administration is hoping that the $106.7 billion in stimulus payments being made this year to 130 million households will be enough to offset serious drags on the economy at the moment from a prolonged housing slump, a severe credit crisis and soaring energy bills. However, economists are worried that the boost from the stimulus checks will be only temporary and once the checks are spent, the risks of the economy falling into a deep recession will rise.

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