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Earnings make sharper climb

Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 98.7 million full-time wage and salary workers were $748 in the fourth quarter of 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. This was 2.7 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.4 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.

Highlights from the fourth-quarter data are:

• Women who usually worked full time had median earnings of $670 per week, or 81.2 percent of the $825 median for men. The female-to-male earnings ratios were higher among blacks (93.4 percent) and Hispanics (86.6 percent) than among whites (79.9 percent) or Asians (83.5 percent).

• Among the major race and ethnicity groups, median earnings for black men working at full-time jobs were $653 per week, 76.8 percent of the median for white men ($850). The difference was less among women, as median earnings for black women ($610) were 89.8 percent of those for white women ($679). Overall, median earnings of Hispanics who worked full time ($547) were lower than those of blacks ($629), whites ($763) and Asians ($877).

• Usual weekly earnings of full-time workers varied by age. Among men, those age 45 to 54 and age 55 to 64 had the highest median weekly earnings, $967 and $953, respectively. Among women, weekly earnings were highest for those age 55 to 64 ($750).

• Among the major occupational groups, persons employed full time in management, professional and related occupations had the highest median weekly earnings — $1,227 for men and $909 for women. Persons employed in service jobs earned the least.

• By educational attainment, full-time workers age 25 and over without a high school diploma had median weekly earnings of $449, compared with $638 for high school graduates (no college) and $1,121 for those holding at least a bachelor’s degree. Among college graduates with advanced degrees (professional or master’s degree and above), the highest earning 10 percent of male workers made $3,342 or more per week, compared with $2,156 or more for their female counterparts.

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