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June 15, 2004
Consumer Prices Knock Real Earnings
Real average weekly earnings decreased by 0.4 percent from April to May after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

A 0.3 percent increase in average hourly earnings was more than offset by a 0.7 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Average weekly hours were unchanged.

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Real average weekly earnings are calculated by adjusting earnings in current dollars for changes in the CPI-W.

Average weekly earnings rose by 2.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, from May 2003 to May 2004. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings declined by 0.5 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $531.76 in May 2004, compared with $513.07 a year earlier.

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