Americans Worked More, But Earned Less, as August’s Inflation Reduced Real Earnings

Craig Bannister | September 13, 2023
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Adjusted for inflation, Americans earned less in August – even though they worked more hours – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Wednesday.

Due to a seasonally-adjusted 0.6% jump in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) compared to July, real average weekly earnings decreased 0.1% over the month, despite a 0.3% increase in the average number of hours worked.

August’s 0.2% improvement in average weekly earnings from July fell short of the month’s 0.6% increase in prices, resulting in the dip in real average weekly earnings.

For production and nonsupervisory employees, the loss in real wages was even more severe. Here, real average weekly earnings decreased 0.3% over the month, as a 0.3% increase in the average workweek failed to offset a 0.6% drop in real average hourly earnings.

In August, a seasonally-adjusted 10.6% increase in the cost of gasoline was the largest contributor to the 0.6% spike in the price index for all-items, accounting for over half of the rise from July. A 0.3% rise in the cost of shelter – the 40th straight monthly increase - also contributed to the increase in prices.

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

BLS: Real Earnings, Production+Nonsupervisory