Personal income climbs 0.5 percent in March

American consumers may have new reason to feel optimistic, as new data from the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis shows personal income rose 0.5 percent last month.

“Personal income continues to show strong growth – for the first quarter of 2011, personal income grew at an 8.1 percent annual rate, boosted by the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010 and by strong employment gains,” said U.S. Commerce Department Chief Economist Mark Doms.

With higher incomes, consumers appear to have also increased their spending, as the report found real personal consumption expenditures climbed 0.2 percent, leading to a first-quarter annual rate of 2.7 percent. The higher level of consumer spending may indicate that individuals are feeling more confident about their current financial standing.

The increase in personal income may persuade some people to start getting their credit in order. For example, with the additional funds, some individuals may look to pay off any overdue credit card balances, which may be a step toward restoring clean credit.

Another way consumers may improve their credit scores is by checking their credit reports for inaccurate and unfair marks. Sometimes, credit companies misreport data about a costumer's account, which ends up leaving the individual with bad credit. In these circumstances, consumers may benefit from working with a credit lawyer, as he or she may have the professional know-how to hold credit companies accountable to federal credit reporting legislation.