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April 14, 2004
Fewer Hours, Rise in Cost of Living Drop Real Earnings
Real average weekly earnings decreased by 0.7 percent from February to March after seasonal adjustment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

A 0.1 percent increase in average hourly earnings was more than offset by a 0.3 percent decline in average weekly hours and a 0.5 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

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Data on average weekly earnings are collected from the payroll reports of private nonfarm establishments. Real average weekly earnings are calculated by adjusting earnings in current dollars for changes in the CPI-W.

Average weekly earnings rose by 1.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, from March 2003 to March 2004. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings were unchanged. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $520.93 in March 2004, compared with $515.95 a year earlier.

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