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Real Earnings - September 2023

About This Release

Current Employment Statistics - National
Classification Industry, Geography
Classification system

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

Periodicity Monthly
Geographic detail National
Reference period

Pay period that includes the 12th of the month

Revision information

Preliminary estimates are published and subject to revision for 2 months after initial release. Benchmark revisions occur annually.

Program webpage

General Description

The Current Employment Statistics-National (CES-N) program produces detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings of workers on payrolls. Each month, BLS collects data through the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, which includes about 131,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 670,000 individual worksites drawn from a sampling frame of unemployment insurance tax accounts covering roughly 10.4 million establishments. Hours and earnings are produced for private, nonfarm industries only. Current dollar earnings are deflated using Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.


  • Average hourly earnings
    Total earnings or payroll, divided by the total number of hours for which employees received pay during the entire pay period. These hours include overtime; stand-by or reporting time; and hours not worked but for which employees received pay (such as holidays, vacations, and sick leave).
  • Average weekly earnings
    Average weekly hours estimates multiplied by average hourly earnings estimates.
  • Average weekly hours
    Total weekly hours divided by the number of employees paid for those hours.
  • Deflator
    Factor that allows data to be measured over time in terms of some base period.
  • Industry
    Group of establishments performing the same or similar economic activities.
  • Seasonal adjustment
    Statistical modification designed to remove the influences of predictable patterns over a year in order to allow more consistent comparison across periods, including months and quarters.


  1. What is the difference between wages and earnings?

    The Current Employment Statistics (CES) program produces earnings, but not wage data. CES average earnings are a measure of gross payrolls divided by total hours paid during the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month. Averages of hourly earnings differ from wage rates. Earnings are the return to an employee for a stated period on average in an industry; rates are the amount stipulated for a given unit of work or time in a specific job. Average hourly earnings do not represent employers' total compensation costs because they exclude items such as employee benefits, irregular bonuses and commissions, retroactive payments, and the employer's share of payroll taxes. A more comprehensive explanation is available at

    The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program produces wages by industry, available at The Occupational Employment Survey produces wages by occupation (instead of industry), available at

  2. Do the Current Employment Statistics hours and earnings estimates include overtime?

    Yes, employers report total gross pay earned during the entire pay period, including overtime pay but excluding irregular payments, and the total number of hours for which employees received pay during the entire pay period including overtime. Overtime hours are published for manufacturing industries only. Respondents in manufacturing report the total number of hours for which employees received overtime premiums because they worked more than their regularly scheduled hours.

  3. How do I get real earnings estimates?

    The Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey collects earnings data for private nonfarm business establishments, excluding government. To calculate the real earnings series, these nominal dollar earnings estimates for all employees (AE) back to 2006 and for production and nonsupervisory employees (PE) starting as early as 1964 (depending on the industry) are adjusted for inflation using 1982-1984 dollars. The data are available on our website at Click on "CES Data Access Tips" for further instructions.

  4. How do I get government earnings data?

    CES does not collect or publish government hours or earnings data. Government earnings data are available from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. QCEW provides annual, quarterly, and weekly wage data for various private and government industries based on Unemployment Insurance tax reports. QCEW wage information can be found at CPI price index information can be found at

  5. Are historical Current Employment Statistics hours and earnings estimates available prior to 1964?

    Manufacturing and other goods-producing industries were the primary focus of early industry data produced by the BLS. Therefore, hours and earnings time series for these industries have a relatively long history. Data for manufacturing and its broadest industry categories begin in 1939, and for mining and construction, in 1947. Prior to 1964, however, the collection of hours and earnings data for the service-providing sector was limited to a few select industries. Given this incomplete industry coverage along with the size of the services portion of the economy, it was not possible to compute hours and earnings estimates for all of the private industries. Beginning in 1964, the collection of hours and earnings data for services was expanded to an extent sufficient to compute total private hours and earnings estimates. These estimates were first published in 1967.

    Discontinued SIC-based hours & earnings estimates are available from 2003 going back to 1964 and in some cases as far back as 1947 or 1939. These series are not comparable with current CES NAICS-based series. To access these discontinued CES data, go to For more information about SIC coding of industries, visit