Wage & price info for year-end 2005

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 05:30 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) just released their data on wages and prices for December, 2005, with comparisons of December to the prior month, and all of 2005 with prior years.

Not particularly good news.

On the price front, today's Consumer Price Index report from the BLS shows that the December level of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers was 196.8 in December, 2005, 3.4 percent higher than in December 2004, despite the fact that this index fell 0.4 percent from November to December. The 3.4 percent increase was the largest since 2000, which also saw a 3.4 percent rise.

Annual rates of increase from 1998 to 2005:


In 2005, the index for energy rose 17.1 percent, following a 16.6 percent increase in 2004, and accounted for about 40 percent of the overall advance in the CPI-U. While the increases in the overall energy indexes for 2004 and 2005 were similar, the composition was different. Petroleum based energy accounted for nearly 80 percent of the 2004 increase, but just over half of the 2005 increase in the energy component.

The 4 percent increase in 2005 housing costs was also the largest since 2000's 4.3 percent rise. The 17.6 percent increase in "energy services" was by far the largest increase in the 1998 to 2005 period (the next highest was 12.7 percent in 2000).

On the wage front, today's BLS report showed:

Real average weekly earnings rose by 0.1 percent from November to December after seasonal adjustment, according to preliminary data. A 0.3 percent decline in average weekly hours was offset by a 0.3 percent rise in average hourly earnings and a 0.1 percent decline in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Average weekly earnings rose by 3.1 percent, seasonally adjusted, from December 2004 to December 2005. After deflation by the CPI-W, average weekly earnings decreased by 0.4 percent. Before adjustment for seasonal change and inflation, average weekly earnings were $551.67 in December 2005, compared with $536.74 a year earlier.

In current dollars, average wages went from $15.88 in Dec., 2004 to $ 16.37 in Dec. of 2005, a 3.1 increase. In constant dollars, however, wages went from $8.27 to $8.24 in that period, a decrease of .4 percent.

Is that hill you're on starting to feel steep? Well, you may not be a Bush, or one of the billionaire's counting your tax savings by the fire with a nice snifter of $250 a bottle brandy, but at least you ain't Sisyphus. Are you? Did you catch that .3 decrease in average weekly hours?