October 20, 2009
Average weekly wages for the nation fell 2.5 percent over the year in the first quarter of 2009. This is the largest over-the-year decline in U.S. average weekly wages dating back to 1978.
During that time span, over-the-year declines in average weekly wages occurred in only two other quarters: first quarter 1993 (‑0.9 percent) and fourth quarter 1994 (‑1.1 percent). The average weekly wages in those two quarters declined because employment growth outpaced total wage growth; in the first quarter of 2009, both employment and wages decreased.
Among the 334 largest counties, 202 had over-the-year decreases in average weekly wages this quarter. The largest wage losses occurred in New York County, New York, with a decline of 23.4 percent from the first quarter of 2008, largely attributable to lower bonus payments in financial activities. Mecklenburg, North Carolina, had the second largest decline (‑10.3 percent); followed by the counties of Fairfield, Connecticut (‑10.0 percent); Hudson, New Jersey (‑9.7 percent); and Suffolk, Massachusetts (‑9.0 percent).
These data are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program. To learn more, see "County Employment and Wages: First Quarter 2009" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL 09-1241. Large counties are defined as having employment levels of 75,000 or greater. New York County is more commonly known as the borough of Manhattan.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Average weekly wages: first quarter 2008–09 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/ted_20091020.htm (visited January 22, 2022).