Another real raise in 1998

January 20, 1999

Average hourly earnings increased 3.7 percent during 1998, similar to the annual increase of 3.8 percent in 1997. After adjustment for price increases, real hourly earnings were up 2.1 percent. With lower retail price inflation over the past two years, the gap has narrowed between real and unadjusted raises.

Annual percent change in average and real average hourly earnings, 1994-98
[Chart data—TXT]

Workers on private nonfarm payrolls earned an average of $12.99 per hour in December 1998, up from $12.53 in December 1997. The increased hourly earnings coupled with a 0.3 percent decline in average weekly hours produced an average weekly raise of 3.4 percent from December 1997 to December 1998. Average weekly earnings were $450.75 in December 1998, compared with $436.04 a year earlier. Real (price-adjusted) average weekly earnings grew by 1.8 percent over the same time period.

Hourly and weekly earnings data for production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls are produced by the Current Employment Statistics program, while data on price changes are provided by the Consumer Price Index program. More information can be found in news release USDL 99-06, "The Employment Situation: December 1998", USDL 99-11, "Consumer Price Index: December 1998", and USDL 99-12, "Real Earnings in December 1998". Yearly comparisons are based on changes in not seasonally adjusted data between December 1997 and December 1998. Retail price changes used here are measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Hours and earnings data for December 1998 are preliminary and subject to revision.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Another real raise in 1998 on the Internet at (visited October 01, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.