Updated from 9:38 a.m. EDT

Americans' spending habits increased faster than their incomes in August, pushing the personal savings rate to a record monthly low.

Personal income

, a measure of wages, interest and government benefits, rose 0.4% in August compared with a 0.3% climb in July, the

Commerce Department

reported Friday. Meanwhile,

consumer spending

rose 0.6%, the same rate of increase in July.

The consensus of economists polled by

Reuters

had forecast 0.3% gains in both income and spending.

Disposable personal income, or income less tax payments, rose 0.4% in August, compared with a 0.3% rise in July.

Part of the increase in real spending was due to declining oil prices in August, a trend that reversed in September, according to Gerald Cohen, senior economist at

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Merrill Lynch

. Still he expects the robust consumer spending to be offset by declining inventories, thus driving down gross domestic product for the third quarter to about 3%. GDP rose at a strong 5.6% annual pace in the second quarter, the Commerce Department

reported Thursday.

Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income fell to negative 0.4%, the lowest monthly level recorded since the government began tracking such statistics in 1959.

The report's inflation measure, the implicit price deflator, was unchanged for the second straight month and is up only 2.4% year-over-year. The inflation gauge is watched closely by

Federal Reserve

policymakers for signs of rising prices, even more closely than the consumer price index. The Fed has raised interest rates six times over the last 15 months in an effort to stem the threat of inflation.

"There is no evidence of inflation," said Cohen.

In other economic news Friday, a key figure showed an increase in activity in the nation's factories. The

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index

, a broad measure of activity in Chicago-area factories and considered a good gauge of the situation in the U.S. manufacturing sector, rose to 51.4 in September from 46.5 in August. Any reading above 50 means business is growing. The large rise in September was unexpected, as the consensus among a group of economists polled by

Reuters

was for a reading of 48.5.