WASHINGTON — Americans increased their retail spending in July by the most in five months, opening their wallets after a frugal spring and offering hope that the slumping economy may rebound in the second half of the year.
Retail spending rose in every major category. The report followed one earlier this month that showed hiring strengthened in July.
Overall, retail sales rose 0.8 percent from June to July, the Commerce Department said. It was the sharpest increase since February, and it followed three months of declines.
The stepped-up spending was evident in a flurry of retail earnings reports.
Home Depot said healthy sales of paint, bathroom accessories, and kitchen installations helped lift its net income 12 percent. Macy’s raised its annual earnings guidance last week after reporting a 16 percent increase in net income. Macy’s executives specifically cited a pickup in their teen clothing business.
TJX Cos., which sells discounted brand names under such store banners as T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods, said its net income jumped 21 percent.
‘‘People are spending a little more and feeling a little better about the economy,’’ said James Donnelly, a sales associate at Boston-based Tadpole, which sells infant wear, children’s clothing, and toys.
Donnelly said he has seen an increase in business and traffic in recent weeks. The store has run 40 percent discounts on summer merchandise. Shoppers are also buying back-to-school items.
Americans appear to be taking their cues from the economy’s modest but steady improvements.
Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the best month for job growth since February. Home prices are up. The value of US exports reached a record high last month. Consumers are more confident. And stock indexes are near their highs for the year.
‘‘I am looking for a better second half of the year, in part because I think business will become more confident, and they will increase their hiring,’’ said Joel Naroff, at Naroff Economic Advisors.
Naroff predicts the government will revise growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate of 2 percent, up from the 1.5 percent reported last month. He predicts growth will then accelerate to 2.6 percent in the July-September quarter and 3.3 percent in the final three months of the year.
Still, unemployment is high at 8.3 percent. Consumer spending on goods and services, which drives roughly 70 percent of growth, grew only 1.5 percent in the April-June quarter, the weakest pace in a year. Some economists cautioned that part of the July increase in retail spending was inevitable after consumers cut spending in each month in the April-June quarter.
The most critical measure of the economy’s health will be the August employment report on Sept. 7.
Over the past 29 months, US companies have added 4.5 million jobs — not enough to lower the jobless rate by much.