For only the fifth time in 33 years weekly wages have fallen over the last year

The BLS finds that weekly wages dropped over the year by 1.7 percent to $955 in the fourth quarter of 2011 from a high of $971 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The U.S. average weekly wage decreased over the year by 1.7 percent to $955 in the fourth quarter of 2011. This is one of only five declines in the history of the series which dates back to 1978. (See Technical Note.) This is the only quarter in which the average weekly wage decline occurred while employment grew over the year and total wages decreased (-0.5 percent). Smaller bonus payments in the fourth quarter of 2011 contributed to the decrease in the average weekly wage. In contrast, the average weekly wage declines posted in the first two quarters of 2009 resulted from significant declines in both employment and wages. During this period, total wage declines were 5.0 percent or more, while employment losses were above 3.0 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Olmsted, Minn., had the largest over-the-year decrease in average weekly wages with a loss of 21.3 percent. Within Olmsted, a total wage decline of $287.3 million (-29.1 percent) in the education and health services industry had the largest impact on the county‚Äôs decrease in average weekly wages. . . . 

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