Pound of ground beef cost 17.9 percent of average hourly earnings in 2016

February 28, 2017

During 2016, the price of a pound of ground beef chuck was, on average, 17.9 percent of the typical hourly earnings of production or nonsupervisory workers. Put another way, a typical nonsupervisory employee had to work about 11 minutes to earn enough money to buy a pound of ground beef. A gallon of whole milk averaged 14.9 percent of hourly earnings, or about 9 minutes of work, while a gallon of unleaded gasoline was 9.9 percent of average production worker earnings or about 6 minutes at work.

Prices of consumer goods as a percentage of average hourly earnings, annual averages, 1997–2016
Year Electricity per kilowatt-hour Bananas, per pound Utility (piped) gas per therm Bread, white, pan, per pound Chicken, fresh, whole, per pound Eggs, grade A, large, per dozen Orange juice,
frozen
concentrate,
12 ounce can, per 16 ounce
Gasoline, unleaded regular, per gallon Ground chuck, 100% beef, per pound Milk, fresh, whole, fortified, per gallon

1997–2016 average

0.7% 3.2% 5.9% 6.8% 7.1% 8.5% 12.9% 13.1% 15.8% 18.7%

1997

0.8 3.9 5.5 7.0 8.0 8.5 13.8 9.9 14.7 20.9

1998

0.7 3.8 5.2 6.6 8.0 8.0 12.5 8.1 13.9 20.8

1999

0.6 3.6 5.1 6.6 7.8 7.1 13.3 8.6 13.6 21.1

2000

0.6 3.6 5.7 6.6 7.6 6.5 13.1 10.8 13.8 19.8

2001

0.6 3.5 6.5 6.9 7.6 6.4 13.0 10.0 14.5 19.8

2002

0.6 3.4 5.2 6.8 7.2 6.9 12.3 9.1 14.3 18.4

2003

0.6 3.3 6.3 6.5 6.7 8.1 12.0 10.3 14.8 18.0

2004

0.6 3.2 6.7 6.2 6.8 8.5 12.0 12.0 16.0 20.1

2005

0.6 3.1 7.8 6.5 6.5 7.6 11.4 14.2 15.7 19.8

2006

0.7 3.0 7.6 6.5 6.3 7.8 11.8 15.5 15.2 18.4

2007

0.7 2.9 7.3 6.9 6.4 9.6 14.4 16.1 15.5 20.1

2008

0.7 3.4 8.0 7.6 6.7 11.0 14.1 18.1 15.9 21.0

2009

0.7 3.3 6.0 7.5 6.9 8.9 13.8 12.6 15.5 16.7

2010

0.7 3.0 5.8 7.2 6.6 8.7 12.9 14.6 15.3 17.1

2011

0.7 3.1 5.5 7.4 6.6 9.1 13.5 18.1 16.4 18.4

2012

0.7 3.1 4.9 7.2 7.2 9.3 13.5 18.5 17.3 17.7

2013

0.7 3.0 5.0 7.0 7.4 9.5 12.5 17.5 17.2 17.2

2014

0.7 2.9 5.2 6.8 7.4 9.8 12.3 16.3 19.3 17.9

2015

0.7 2.8 4.5 6.9 7.1 11.7 12.9 11.6 20.2 16.3

2016

0.6 2.7 4.3 6.4 6.8 7.8 12.6 9.9 17.9 14.9

Note: Percentages for the most recent year are calculated with preliminary earnings estimates.

The price of a dozen eggs averaged 7.8 percent of average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers in 2016 , while a pound of chicken was 6.8 percent.

Over the 1997–2016 period, the price of ground beef averaged 15.8 percent of average hourly earnings, though it was 17.2 percent or higher for the past 5 years. 

As a percentage of worker earnings, the prices of milk, eggs, chicken, and gasoline in 2016 were all lower than their averages over the 1997–2016 period. For example, the price of a gallon of milk averaged 18.7 percent of average hourly earnings over the past 20 years, but was 14.9 percent in 2016. The price of a gallon of gasoline averaged 9.9 percent of average hourly earnings in 2016, while its average over the past 20 years was 13.1 percent. In 1998, the price of a gallon of gasoline averaged 8.1 percent of wages; in 2012, it was 18.5 percent. 

These percentages were calculated with average price data from the Consumer Price Index program and the average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers are from the Current Employment Statistics program. Percentages for the most recent year are based on preliminary hourly earnings data.   

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Pound of ground beef cost 17.9 percent of average hourly earnings in 2016 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/pound-of-ground-beef-cost-17-point-9-percent-of-average-hourly-earnings-in-2016.htm (visited July 17, 2018).

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