Wages fall behind inflation

Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 115.8 million full-time wage and salary workers were $876 in the second quarter of 2018 (not seasonally adjusted), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently.

This was 2.0 percent higher than a year earlier, but not sufficient to keep pace with inflation, which showed a gain of 2.7 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.

Data on usual weekly earnings are collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a nationwide sample survey of households in which respondents are asked, among other things, how much each wage and salary worker usually earns.

Highlights from the second-quarter data:

–Median weekly earnings of full-time workers were $876 in the second quarter of 2018. Women had median weekly earnings of $780, or 81.3 percent of the $959 median for men.

–The women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio varied by race and ethnicity. White women earned 82.7 percent as much as their male counterparts, compared with Black women (89.4 percent), Asian women (73.7 percent), and Hispanic women (88.2 percent).

–Among the major race and ethnicity groups, median weekly earnings of Hispanics ($674) and Blacks ($683) working at full-time jobs were lower than those of Whites ($907) and Asians ($1,083). By sex, median earnings for Black men were $720, or 73.1 percent of the median for White men ($985). Median earnings for Hispanic men were $704, or 71.5 percent of the median for White men. The gap was narrower among women, as Black women’s median earnings ($644) were 79.0 percent of those for White women ($815), and earnings for Hispanic women ($621) were 76.2 percent of those for White women. Asian men and women earned more than their White counterparts.

–By age, median weekly earnings were highest for men age 35 and over in the second quarter of 2018: weekly earnings were $1,085 for men age 35 to 44, $1,108 for men age 45 to 54, $1,127 for men age 55 to 64, and $1,074 for men age 65 and over. Usual weekly earnings were also highest for women age 35 and over: weekly earnings were $866 for women age 35 to 44, $854 for women age 45 to 54, $856 for women age 55 to 64, and $925 for women age 65 and over. Men and women age 16 to 24 had the lowest median weekly earnings, $528 and $511, respectively.

–Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median weekly earnings– $1,463 for men and $1,080 for women. Men and women employed in service jobs earned the least, $615 and $512, respectively.

–By educational attainment, full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $554, compared with $726 for high school graduates (no college) and $1,310 for those holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Among college graduates with advanced degrees (master’s or professional degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent of male workers made $3,900 or more per week, compared with $2,625 or more for their female counterparts.

–Seasonally adjusted median weekly earnings were $879 in the second quarter of 2018, little changed from the previous quarter ($873).

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