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Pay Increases Outpace Inflation During Year

April 29, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Paychecks for the nation's 78 million full-time workers rose an average 4.2% in the past year, nearly double the rate of inflation, to a median $369 per week in the first quarter of 1987, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

That compares to a median paycheck of $368 per week in the last quarter of 1986 and $354 per week in the first three months of 1986, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Meanwhile, the bureau said in a separate report that white-collar are getting percentage pay and benefit raises, partly through bonuses, that are more than twice as large as the increases for blue-collar workers.

And, continuing a trend of the past four years, union members are getting smaller raises than non-union workers--in the past year less than half as much.

In its report on weekly paychecks, the bureau noted that consumer prices during the year rose just 2.2%. The 4.2% increase in weekly earnings, it said, effectively gives the typical worker $4 per week more in buying power in uninflated 1977 dollars than he or she had a year ago.

The pay gap between men and women narrowed, but only less than one-half of 1% over the year.

Median earnings so far this year for women working full time are running at $299 per week, 69% of the $434 earned by men. The median is the point dividing workers into two equal groups, half earning more than that amount and half less.

Blacks were paid about 77% as much as whites, $295 per week, compared to $381. Latinos working full time drew a median weekly wage of $285.

The number of people working part time rose by 437,000 during the year to 18.7 million, and their average weekly paycheck increased to $98 from $95 in the first quarter of this year.

In the separate report on employment costs, the bureau said employers reported that they had increased 0.9% the first quarter of 1987 and 3.4% over the same period a year ago. But that is smaller than the 4.1% increase in hourly labor costs reported by employers the previous year.

Yearly increases in hourly wages and salaries alone--minus fringe benefits--also were down from 4.2% the previous year to 3.5% during the latest 12 months.

Wage and benefit increases for blue-collar workers were held to 2.1%, while annual gains for executive, administrative and managerial occupations averaged 4.3%. Wage gains in the Midwest during the past 12 months averaged 2.6%, down from 3.8% the previous year.

The Northeast had the largest wage gains among regions of the country, 4.8%, compared to 5% a year earlier. The smallest gains were in the West, 2.4%, down from 3.3% a year earlier.

In the South, wage gains were 2.6%, down from last year's 3.7%.

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