Real Earnings Report Continues the Sad News

Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 08:07 AM

From Thursday's Bureau of Economic Analysis reports on real earnings and on inflation:

[real earnings]

Real average weekly earnings fell by 0.5 percent from March to April after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. 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 0.2 percent rise in average hourly earnings.


Average weekly earnings rose by 3.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, from April 2006 to April 2007. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings increased by 0.9 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $589.90 in April 2007, compared with $566.81 a year earlier.


During the first four months of 2007, the CPI-U rose at a 4.8 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). This compares with an increase of 2.5 percent for all of 2006. The acceleration thus far this year was due to larger increases in the energy and food components. The index for energy advanced at a 25.3 percent SAAR in the first four months of 2007 compared with 2.9 percent in 2006. Petroleum-based energy costs increased at a 40.0 percent annual rate and charges for energy services rose at a 9.4 percent annual rate. The food index has increased at a 6.7 percent SAAR thus far this year, following a 2.1 percent rise for all of 2006. Excluding food and energy, the CPI-U advanced at a 2.2 percent SAAR in the first four months, following a 2.6 percent rise for all of 2006.


Medical care costs rose 0.4 percent in April and are 4.0 percent higher than a year ago. The index for medical care commodities-- prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and medical supplies--increased 0.4 percent, as did the index for medical care services . Within the later group, the index for professional services was virtually unchanged, while the index for hospital and related services increased 0.8 percent.