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June 14, 2006
Fewer Hours and Higher Consumer Prices Pull on Wages

Inflation-adjusted average weekly earnings fell by 0.7 percent from April to May after seasonal adjustment, the biggest drop in real wages since September 2005, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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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) were partially offset by a 0.1 percent rise in average hourly earnings.

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

Average weekly earnings rose by 4.0 percent, seasonally adjusted, from May 2005 to May 2006. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings decreased by 0.2 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $559.08 in May 2006, compared with $543.42 a year earlier.

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