Economic News Release

Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers News Release




Technical information:(202) 691-6378     USDL 08-1460
             http://www.bls.gov/cps/
                                         For release:  10:00 A.M. (EDT)
Media contact:        (202) 691-5902     Friday, October 17, 2008
                                   
                                   
           USUAL WEEKLY EARNINGS OF WAGE AND SALARY WORKERS:
                          THIRD QUARTER 2008


   Median weekly earnings of the nation's 107.2 million full-time wage
and salary workers were $720 in the third quarter of 2008, the Bureau 
of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  
This was 3.6 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain 
of 5.3 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers 
(CPI-U) over the same period.

   Data on usual earnings are collected as part of the Current Popula-
tion Survey, a nationwide sample survey of households in which respon-
dents are asked, among other things, how much each wage and salary 
worker usually earns.  (See the Technical Note.)  Highlights from the 
third-quarter data are:

   --Women who usually worked full time had median earnings of $631 per 
   week, or 79.3 percent of the $796 median for men.  The female-to-
   male earnings ratios were higher among Hispanics (88.0 percent) and
   blacks (82.0 percent) than among whites (79.5 percent) or Asians 
   (75.3 percent).  (See table 1.)

   --Median earnings for black men working at full-time jobs were $646
   per week, 79.2 percent of the median for white men ($816).  The dif-
   ference was less among women, as black women's median earnings ($530) 
   were 81.7 percent of those for their white counterparts ($649).  Over-
   all, median earnings of Hispanics who worked full time ($529) were
   lower than those of blacks ($589), whites ($739), and Asians ($854).
   (See table 1.)

   --Among men, those age 45 to 54 had the highest median weekly earnings 
   ($964).  Women age 45 to 54 had median earnings of $716, essentially 
   the same as those age 55 to 64 ($715).  (See table 2.)

   --Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in 
   managerial, professional, and related occupations had the highest me-
   dian weekly earnings--$1,234 for men and $916 for women.  Persons em-
   ployed in service jobs earned the least.  (See table 3.)

   --Full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had 
   median weekly earnings of $471, compared with $618 for high school
   graduates (no college) and $1,131 for those holding at least a bache-
   lor's degree.  Among college graduates with advanced degrees (profes-
   sional or master's degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent 
   of male workers made $3,192 or more per week, compared with $2,287 or 
   more for their female counterparts.  (See table 4.)







                                  - 2 -


Technical Note

   The estimates in this release were obtained from the Current Population
Survey (CPS), which provides the basic information on the labor force,
employment, and unemployment.  The survey is conducted monthly for the
Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau from a scientifically
selected national sample of about 60,000 households, with coverage in all
50 states and the District of Columbia.  The earnings data are collected
from one-quarter of the CPS monthly sample and are limited to wages and
salaries.  The data, therefore, exclude self-employment income.

   Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired 
individuals upon request.  Voice phone:  (202) 691-5200; TDD message referral
phone number:  1-800-877-8339.

Reliability

   Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling
error.  When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there
is a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the "true" population
values they represent.  The exact difference, or sampling error, varies de-
pending on the particular sample selected, and this variability is measured
by the standard error of the estimate.  There is about a 90-percent chance,
or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no
more than 1.6 standard errors from the "true" population value because of
sampling error.  BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level
of confidence.

   The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error.  Nonsampling error
can occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the
population, inability to obtain information for all respondents in the sample,
inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide correct information, and
errors made in the collection or processing of the data.

   For a full discussion of the reliability of data from the CPS and informa-
tion on estimating standard errors, see the Household Data section of the
"Explanatory Notes and Estimates of Error" at http://www.bls.gov/cps/eetech_
methods.pdf.

Definitions

   The principal definitions used in connection with the earnings series are
described briefly below.

   Usual weekly earnings. Data represent earnings before taxes and other
deductions and include any overtime pay, commissions, or tips usually
received (at the main job in the case of multiple jobholders.)  Prior to
1994, respondents were asked how much they usually earned per week.  Since
January 1994, respondents have been asked to identify the easiest way for
them to report earnings (hourly, weekly, biweekly, twice monthly, monthly,
annually, other) and how much they usually earn in the reported time period.
Earnings reported on a basis other than weekly are converted to a weekly
equivalent.  The term "usual" is as perceived by the respondent.  If the 
respondent asks for a definition of usual, interviewers are instructed to
define the term as more than half the weeks worked during the past 4 or
5 months.


                                  - 3 -


   Medians (and other quantiles) of weekly earnings. The median (or upper
limit of the second quartile) is the amount which divides a given earnings
distribution into two equal groups, one having earnings above the median
and the other having earnings below the median.  Ten percent of a given
distribution have earnings below the upper limit of the first decile (90
percent have higher earnings); 25 percent have earnings below the upper
limit of the first quartile (75 percent have higher earnings); 75 percent
have earnings below the upper limit of the third quartile (25 percent have
higher earnings); and 90 percent have earnings below the upper limit of the
ninth decile (10 percent have higher earnings).

   The estimating procedure places each reported or calculated weekly
earnings value into $50-wide intervals which are centered around multiples
of $50.  The actual value is estimated through the linear interpolation of
the interval in which the quantile boundary lies.

   Over-the-year changes in the medians (and other quantile boundaries)
for specific groups may not necessarily be consistent with the movements
estimated for the overall quantile boundary.  The most common reasons for
this possible anomaly are:  (1) There could be a change in the relative
weights of the subgroups.  For example, the medians of both 16-to-24 year
olds and those 25 years and over may rise; but if the lower-earning 16-to-
24 group accounts for a greatly increased share of the total, the overall
median could actually fall.  (2) There could be a large change in the shape
of the distribution of reported earnings, particularly near a quantile
boundary.  This could be caused by survey observations that are clustered
at rounded values, such as $250, $300, $400.  An estimate lying in a $50-wide
centered interval containing such a cluster or "spike" tends to change more
slowly than one in other intervals.

   Wage and salary workers. Workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions,
tips, payment in kind, or piece rates.  The group includes employees in both
the private and public sectors but, for the purposes of the earnings series,
excludes all self-employed persons, regardless of whether or not their busi-
nesses are incorporated.

   Full-time workers. Workers who usually work 35 hours or more per week at
their sole or principal job.

   Part-time workers. Workers who usually work fewer than 35 hours per week
at their sole or principal job.

   Constant dollars. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U)
is used to convert current dollars to constant (1982) dollars.

   Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Refers to persons who identified themselves
in the enumeration process as being Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino.  Persons
whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.







     Table 1.  Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages, not
     seasonally adjusted
                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                              
                                                                          Number of workers                 Median weekly earnings            
                                                                            (in thousands)                                                    
                                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                              
                              Characteristic                                                      In current dollars      In constant (1982)  
                                                                                                                               dollars        
                                                                          III         III                                                     
                                                                          2007        2008                                                    
                                                                                                    III         III         III         III   
                                                                                                    2007        2008        2007        2008  
                                                                                                                                              
                                SEX AND AGE                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                              
       Total, 16 years and over.......................................   108,272     107,194        $695        $720        $322        $317  
                                                                                                                                              
         Men, 16 years and over.......................................    61,150      60,170         767         796         356         350  
           16 to 24 years.............................................     7,042       6,439         430         446         199         196  
           25 years and over..........................................    54,108      53,731         831         857         385         377  
                                                                                                                                              
         Women, 16 years and over.....................................    47,122      47,025         616         631         285         278  
           16 to 24 years.............................................     5,160       4,886         398         406         184         179  
           25 years and over..........................................    41,963      42,139         654         666         303         293  
                                                                                                                                              
                RACE, HISPANIC OR LATINO ETHNICITY, AND SEX                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                              
         White........................................................    87,258      86,600         713         739         331         325  
           Men........................................................    50,520      49,727         784         816         363         359  
           Women......................................................    36,738      36,873         630         649         292         286  
                                                                                                                                              
         Black or African American....................................    13,229      12,878         578         589         268         259  
           Men........................................................     6,320       6,085         618         646         286         284  
           Women......................................................     6,909       6,793         534         530         247         233  
                                                                                                                                              
         Asian........................................................     5,250       5,266         842         854         390         376  
           Men........................................................     2,939       3,004         947         960         439         422  
           Women......................................................     2,311       2,261         738         723         342         318  
                                                                                                                                              
         Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.................................    16,525      16,095         502         529         233         233  
           Men........................................................    10,533      10,197         518         566         240         249  
           Women......................................................     5,993       5,898         469         498         217         219  

        NOTE:  Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are not
     presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.  Updated population controls are
     introduced annually with the release of January data.







     Table 2.  Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by age, race, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity,
     and sex, third quarter 2008 averages, not seasonally adjusted
                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                               
                                                                           Total                Men                Women       
                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                               
              Age, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity           Number of           Number of           Number of          
                                                                     workers    Median   workers    Median   workers    Median 
                                                                       (in      weekly     (in      weekly     (in      weekly 
                                                                    thousand-  earnings thousand-  earnings thousand-  earnings
                                                                        s)                  s)                  s)             
                                                                                                                               
                                 TOTAL                                                                                         
                                                                                                                               
       16 years and over...........................................  107,194      $720    60,170      $796    47,025      $631 
         16 to 24 years............................................   11,325       425     6,439       446     4,886       406 
           16 to 19 years..........................................    1,883       332     1,087       347       797       315 
           20 to 24 years..........................................    9,442       458     5,353       475     4,089       428 
         25 years and over.........................................   95,869       763    53,731       857    42,139       666 
           25 to 54 years..........................................   78,664       757    44,276       845    34,388       661 
             25 to 34 years........................................   25,690       656    14,763       699    10,926       614 
             35 to 44 years........................................   26,297       802    15,103       901    11,194       669 
             45 to 54 years........................................   26,678       842    14,410       964    12,267       716 
           55 years and over.......................................   17,205       798     9,455       916     7,751       692 
             55 to 64 years........................................   14,661       826     7,964       937     6,696       715 
             65 years and over.....................................    2,545       654     1,490       751     1,054       566 
                                                                                                                               
                                 White                                                                                         
       16 years and over...........................................   86,600       739    49,727       816    36,873       649 
         16 to 24 years............................................    9,172       430     5,329       448     3,843       408 
         25 years and over.........................................   77,428       786    44,398       879    33,030       687 
           25 to 54 years..........................................   62,875       776    36,250       866    26,624       678 
           55 years and over.......................................   14,553       831     8,148       939     6,405       720 
                                                                                                                               
                       Black or African American                                                                               
       16 years and over...........................................   12,878       589     6,085       646     6,793       530 
         16 to 24 years............................................    1,415       396       709       410       705       376 
         25 years and over.........................................   11,463       615     5,376       683     6,087       564 
           25 to 54 years..........................................    9,798       619     4,629       687     5,169       575 
           55 years and over.......................................    1,665       590       747       655       918       524 
                                                                                                                               
                                 Asian                                                                                         
       16 years and over...........................................    5,266       854     3,004       960     2,261       723 
         16 to 24 years............................................      378       587       206       595       173       575 
         25 years and over.........................................    4,887       894     2,799       989     2,089       744 
           25 to 54 years..........................................    4,155       917     2,380     1,008     1,775       768 
           55 years and over.......................................      732       749       419       865       313       661 
                                                                                                                               
                      Hispanic or Latino ethnicity                                                                             
       16 years and over...........................................   16,095       529    10,197       566     5,898       498 
         16 to 24 years............................................    2,074       398     1,271       406       803       376 
         25 years and over.........................................   14,022       569     8,926       595     5,095       515 
           25 to 54 years..........................................   12,504       568     7,966       596     4,538       513 
           55 years and over.......................................    1,518       577       960       592       557       525 

        NOTE:  Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because
     data are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. 
     Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.







     Table 3.  Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by occupation and sex, quarterly averages, not
     seasonally adjusted
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                 Number of workers         Median weekly earnings  
                                                                                   (in thousands)                                  
                               Occupation and sex                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                 III           III           III           III     
                                                                                 2007          2008          2007          2008    
                                                                                                                                   
                                     TOTAL                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                   
       Management, professional, and related occupations...................     38,843        40,192        $1,011        $1,041   
         Management, business, and financial operations occupations........     15,848        16,448         1,114         1,135   
         Professional and related occupations..............................     22,995        23,744           958         1,000   
       Service occupations.................................................     15,296        15,475           445           470   
       Sales and office occupations........................................     25,844        24,795           602           610   
         Sales and related occupations.....................................     10,473         9,728           640           657   
         Office and administrative support occupations.....................     15,371        15,067           587           597   
       Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations........     12,678        11,683           659           701   
         Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations........................        825           822           372           476   
         Construction and extraction occupations...........................      7,304         6,536           631           689   
         Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.................      4,549         4,325           745           779   
       Production, transportation, and material moving occupations.........     15,611        15,049           584           590   
         Production occupations............................................      8,399         7,991           585           592   
         Transportation and material moving occupations....................      7,212         7,058           584           589   
                                                                                                                                   
                                      Men                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                   
       Management, professional, and related occupations...................     19,325        19,938         1,205         1,234   
         Management, business, and financial operations occupations........      8,448         8,797         1,328         1,335   
         Professional and related occupations..............................     10,877        11,141         1,151         1,167   
       Service occupations.................................................      7,612         7,637           503           545   
       Sales and office occupations........................................      9,769         9,396           710           728   
         Sales and related occupations.....................................      5,767         5,432           784           787   
         Office and administrative support occupations.....................      4,002         3,965           624           657   
       Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations........     12,187        11,265           663           704   
         Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations........................        663           688           379           480   
         Construction and extraction occupations...........................      7,126         6,387           633           688   
         Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.................      4,398         4,190           744           781   
       Production, transportation, and material moving occupations.........     12,257        11,933           622           637   
         Production occupations............................................      6,013         5,797           643           650   
         Transportation and material moving occupations....................      6,245         6,136           608           620   
                                                                                                                                   
                                     Women                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                   
       Management, professional, and related occupations...................     19,518        20,254           868           916   
         Management, business, and financial operations occupations........      7,400         7,650           923           958   
         Professional and related occupations..............................     12,118        12,604           835           886   
       Service occupations.................................................      7,684         7,838           408           416   
       Sales and office occupations........................................     16,075        15,399           562           576   
         Sales and related occupations.....................................      4,706         4,297           507           524   
         Office and administrative support occupations.....................     11,370        11,103           577           585   
       Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations........        490           417           526           599   
         Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations........................        162           134           353           423   
         Construction and extraction occupations...........................        178           149           560           755   
         Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.................        150           134           773           685   
       Production, transportation, and material moving occupations.........      3,354         3,116           437           456   
         Production occupations............................................      2,387         2,194           443           468   
         Transportation and material moving occupations....................        967           923           426           423   

        NOTE:  Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.







     Table 4. Quartiles and selected deciles of usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected
     characteristics, third quarter 2008 averages, not seasonally adjusted
                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                  
                                                                       Number of                  Upper limit of:                 
                                                                        workers                                                   
                              Characteristic                              (in                                                     
                                                                       thousand-   First     First     Second    Third     Ninth  
                                                                           s)      decile   quartile  quartile  quartile   decile 
                                                                                                      (median)                    
                                                                                                                                  
                SEX, RACE, AND HISPANIC OR LATINO ETHNICITY                                                                       
                                                                                                                                  
       Total, 16 years and over.......................................  107,194      $345      $484      $720    $1,131    $1,708 
         Men..........................................................   60,170       376       519       796     1,246     1,886 
         Women........................................................   47,025       319       435       631       966     1,435 
                                                                                                                                  
         White........................................................   86,600       352       493       739     1,154     1,745 
           Men........................................................   49,727       380       529       816     1,272     1,897 
           Women......................................................   36,873       325       450       649       985     1,460 
                                                                                                                                  
         Black or African American....................................   12,878       311       411       589       882     1,307 
           Men........................................................    6,085       337       470       646       952     1,374 
           Women......................................................    6,793       294       386       530       789     1,243 
                                                                                                                                  
         Asian........................................................    5,266       368       525       854     1,362     1,916 
           Men........................................................    3,004       401       606       960     1,561     2,261 
           Women......................................................    2,261       330       470       723     1,121     1,645 
                                                                                                                                  
         Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.................................   16,095       301       387       529       803     1,199 
           Men........................................................   10,197       316       403       566       852     1,255 
           Women......................................................    5,898       286       354       498       723     1,103 
                                                                                                                                  
                          EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                  
       Total, 25 years and over.......................................   95,869       374       513       763     1,180     1,766 
         Less than a high school diploma..............................    7,841       284       347       471       631       877 
         High school graduates, no college (1)........................   27,759       341       453       618       887     1,240 
         Some college or associate degree.............................   26,599       382       514       725     1,039     1,435 
         Bachelor's degree and higher (2).............................   33,671       552       761     1,131     1,666     2,329 
           Bachelor's degree only.....................................   21,979       507       712     1,020     1,542     2,116 
           Advanced degree............................................   11,692       642       896     1,333     1,895     2,881 
                                                                                                                                  
         Men, 25 years and over.......................................   53,731       403       578       857     1,328     1,911 
           Less than a high school diploma............................    5,459       298       382       505       697       924 
           High school graduates, no college (1)......................   16,239       385       508       710       993     1,366 
           Some college or associate degree...........................   13,805       431       593       835     1,182     1,596 
           Bachelor's degree and higher (2)...........................   18,227       603       866     1,291     1,889     2,719 
             Bachelor's degree only...................................   12,025       579       811     1,173     1,760     2,386 
             Advanced degree..........................................    6,202       695       988     1,509     2,139     3,192 
                                                                                                                                  
         Women, 25 years and over.....................................   42,139       338       469       666     1,011     1,487 
           Less than a high school diploma............................    2,381       256       305       381       492       647 
           High school graduates, no college (1)......................   11,520       306       396       518       710       983 
           Some college or associate degree...........................   12,794       343       471       622       880     1,189 
           Bachelor's degree and higher (2)...........................   15,443       499       685       968     1,401     1,906 
             Bachelor's degree only...................................    9,954       461       631       888     1,265     1,764 
             Advanced degree..........................................    5,490       608       824     1,166     1,605     2,287 

       1 Includes persons with a high school diploma or equivalent.
       2 Includes persons with bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.
        NOTE:  Ten percent of all full-time wage and salary workers earn less than the upper limit of the first decile; 25 percent
     earn less than the upper limit of the first quartile; 50 percent earn less than the upper limit of the second quartile, or
     median; 75 percent earn less than the upper limit of the third quartile; and 90 percent earn less than the upper limit of the
     ninth decile.  Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because
     data are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. 
     Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.







     Table 5.  Median usual weekly earnings of part-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, quarterly averages, not
     seasonally adjusted
                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                  Number of workers           Median weekly earnings   
                                                                                    (in thousands)                                     
                                 Characteristic                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                  III            III             III            III    
                                                                                  2007           2008            2007           2008   
                                                                                                                                       
                                  SEX AND AGE                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                       
       Total, 16 years and over............................................      21,707         22,345           $218           $223   
                                                                                                                                       
         Men, 16 years and over............................................       6,855          7,262            213            212   
           16 to 24 years..................................................       3,279          3,533            174            169   
           25 years and over...............................................       3,577          3,729            268            280   
                                                                                                                                       
         Women, 16 years and over..........................................      14,851         15,083            221            229   
           16 to 24 years..................................................       4,529          4,517            164            172   
           25 years and over...............................................      10,323         10,566            262            262   
                                                                                                                                       
                  RACE, HISPANIC OR LATINO ETHNICITY, AND SEX                                                                          
                                                                                                                                       
         White.............................................................      18,190         18,677            221            224   
           Men.............................................................       5,543          5,926            214            212   
           Women...........................................................      12,646         12,751            224            230   
                                                                                                                                       
         Black or African American.........................................       2,039          2,122            200            214   
           Men.............................................................         768            782            201            206   
           Women...........................................................       1,271          1,340            198            218   
                                                                                                                                       
         Asian.............................................................         902            879            233            245   
           Men.............................................................         347            301            251            244   
           Women...........................................................         555            578            222            246   
                                                                                                                                       
         Hispanic or Latino ethnicity......................................       2,377          2,781            208            220   
           Men.............................................................         786          1,043            202            226   
           Women...........................................................       1,591          1,739            210            216   

        NOTE:  Estimates for the above race groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data are
     not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race.  Updated population
     controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
     
     
     
     
     

Last Modified Date: October 17, 2008
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