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February 21, 2008
Inflation Takes a Bite Out of Wages

Real (that is, inflation-adjusted) average weekly earnings fell by 0.5 percent from December 2007 to January 2008 after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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A 0.3 percent decrease in average weekly hours and a 0.4 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) were partially offset by a 0.2 percent increase 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 3.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from January 2007 to January 2008. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings decreased by 1.4 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $592.74 in January 2008, compared with $573.14 a year earlier.

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