Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=120373
Story Retrieval Date: 6/20/2013 5:57:47 AM CST
Real average weekly and hourly earnings increased 3.6 percent last month compared with a year ago. Real average earnings are a measure of the purchasing power of a worker’s earnings when adjusted for inflation.
Average weekly earnings, which are not adjusted for inflation, rose to $615.05 in February 2009, up from $602.65 in February 2008. Average hourly earnings increased to $18.47 from $17.83 per hour during the same period, and increased three cents from $18.44 in January.
Benjamin Collins of the BLS said weekly earnings numbers are based on the Bureau’s employment survey, which covers gross weekly earnings, the number of hours worked and the number of people on payrolls.
For the construction industry, real average weekly earnings increased 2.6 percent from last year, while hourly earnings increased 4 percent.
Weekly earnings for the manufacturing sector decreased by less than one percent, and hourly earnings increased 3.1 percent.
The education and health services sector saw a 3.3 percent increase in weekly earnings, and a 3.7 percent increase in hourly earnings. Workers in the leisure and hospitality industry saw a 2.0 percent increase in weekly earnings and an equal increase in hourly earnings.
Adolfo L. Laurenti, senior economist at Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc., was reluctant to say that the overall 3.6 increase in average hourly earnings from a year ago was a bright spot.
“The support that we see in weekly hourly earnings is not enough to set off the number of people that are losing jobs,” he said. “More and more people are becoming unemployed, and there is much more demand for work than supply.” Separately, the Labor Department reported on Friday that the unemployment rate in February grew to 8.1 percent.
“The earnings and employment data suggest that personal income is most likely to post a decline in February,” wrote senior vice president and economist Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust Co. in a research note.