The reported drop in weekly wages reflects both stagnant wages and a shorter workweek. (Chris Brown / CC-BY-2.0)

During the first quarter of 2016, the average weekly wage in the U.S. fell 0.5 percent from a year ago, just the seventh such annual decline dating back to 1978, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Investor’s Business Daily writes:

The reported drop in weekly wages, which reflects both stagnant wages and a shorter workweek, confirms that the economy was much weaker than widely understood in early 2016. That weakness, which was evident in the sharp slowdown in federal income and employment tax withholdings, was likely exacerbated by a sharp stock-market sell-off triggered by concerns over China’s slowing economy and the Federal Reserve’s plans for a series of rate hikes.

The new data come from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which provides the only detailed quarterly and annual universe count of establishments, employment and wages at the county, state and national levels by detailed industry.

Among the 344 largest counties, 167 had over-the-year decreases in average weekly wages, with three seeing double-digit declines: McClean, Ill., 13.3%; Washington, Pa., 12.0%; and Lafayette, La., 10.3%.

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—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.


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