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July 16, 2003
Weekly Wages Up in All States but Two

The average weekly wages of all workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs was $739 in the fourth quarter of 2002, an increase of 1.7 percent from the same quarter in 2001, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Quarterly employment and wage data are compiled from reports submitted by employers subject to state and federal UI laws, covering 129.3 million full- and part-time jobs.

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The lowest-paid sector was accommodation and food services with average weekly wages of $275. The next lowest-paid sector was agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting at $428, followed by retail trade ($460), other services, except public administration ($479), and administrative and waste services ($508).

Management of companies and enterprises was the highest-paid sector in the fourth quarter of 2002, with average weekly wages of $1,304. Still, management of companies and enterprises was the only industry sector to record an over-the-year decline in average weekly wages in the fourth quarter of 2002, falling by 0.9 percent.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia showed growth in wages over year-ago levels. The highest wage growth (4.9 percent) occurred in the District of Columbia, followed by Hawaii (4.3 percent), Nevada (3.9 percent), and Alabama and Rhode Island (3.8 percent each).

Two states experienced declines in their average weekly wage levels compared with the fourth quarter of 2001. New York had the larger decline (-0.5 percent), followed by Delaware (-0.2 percent). Five states experienced less than one-percent growth in wages. Among the states with pay gains, Connecticut had the slowest rate of growth at 0.5 percent, followed by Massachusetts (0.6 percent), Texas and Utah (0.8 percent each), and Missouri (0.9 percent).

Among the states and the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia had the highest weekly wage level ($1,192) in the fourth quarter of 2002, followed by Connecticut ($955), New Jersey ($915), New York ($909), and Massachusetts ($907). The 2002 fourth-quarter wage levels of these five areas ranged from 23 percent to 61 percent above the national average.

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