(CNBC) — Rich people are likely picking up much of the slack in consumer spending, with the rest of the burden taken up by those working in a “shadow economy” of under-the-table cash payments, according to some economists.

Working families have gotten slammed with a one-two punch of higher taxes and gas prices, yet retail sales hit a six-month high of 1.1 percent in February.

That increase came despite expectations that consumers would be pressured through the beginning-of-the-year expiration of the payroll tax cut on top of gasoline prices that have surged to $3.70 a gallon nationally.

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