Incomes Data Research Paper

The Budget on 22 November sparked a debate over the prospects for wage growth over the coming period. The Bank of England is on one side, while on the other stand the government’s Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Earlier, in announcing its decision to raise interest rates marginally on 2 November, the Bank argued that while pay increases are currently subdued – mostly because employment has been growing in lower-paid occupations and industries – it expected earnings growth to strengthen during 2018. This will occur, the Bank said, ‘as the tightening labour market starts to put more widespread upward pressure on wage demands’.

The Bank’s position is perhaps a logical corollary of its decision to raise interest rates, a move designed to reduce the potential for over-heating in the economy. But it nevertheless highlights a number of signs of increasing wage demands.

One of these is greater ‘churn’ in the labour market, with the proportion of people moving from one job to another close to the pre-recession rate. The Bank thinks this might indicate confidence among workers about their prospects in the labour market, which could increase pressure on employers to retain them by raising wages.

The Bank’s agents have also found employers are more willing to award bigger pay rises. In their November report, they found recruitment difficulties had increased, contributing to a slight increase in pay growth, with expectations that settlements could be clustered around 2.5% to 3.5% in 2018, compared with 2% to 3% this year.

Our own research on pay in two key sectors tends to support the Bank’s findings. In call centres, pay settlements have increased slightly, and recruitment and retention problems have worsened. Meanwhile in engineering, pay growth for shopfloor staff is greater than for white-collar workers and managers, with recruitment pressures playing a part.

However the Bank also points to a potential offset to its predictions of wage growth, namely that employers’ uncertainty over the economic outlook could affect their willingness to raise pay until they have more clarity about future demand for their products and services.

This is where the IFS and the OBR come in, warning of bad times around the corner, in an echo of the old Noel Coward song. In the wake of the Budget, both bodies think economic and productivity growth will be weaker than before and have downgraded their predictions for earnings growth. They could be right but they may not be. While the Budget increased spending and reduced tax, the overall policy position is still one of austerity, and the OBR and IFS positions reflect this.

In at least two respects though, the Budget has contributed to potential upward pressure on pay. The first is the chancellor’s announcement of a 4.4% rise in the National Living Wage, from £7.50 to £7.83 from 1 April 2018. The second is his reiteration of the government’s intention to ‘move away from’ the 1% public sector pay cap and a promise to fund an NHS pay deal linked to productivity gains, and justified on recruitment and retention grounds. Any NHS award will influence claims in the public sector, and could be a trigger for a more generalised catch-up after years of restraint, perhaps leading to spillover effects in the private sector.


This page contains information on the earnings of employed persons derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Data on employed and unemployed persons, hours of work, and other demographic and labor force characteristics also are available.


Data measure usual hourly and weekly earnings of wage and salary workers. All self-employed persons are excluded, regardless of whether their businesses are incorporated. Data represent earnings before taxes and other deductions and include any overtime pay, commissions, or tips usually received. The earnings data are collected from one-fourth of the CPS total sample of approximately 60,000 households. Data are published quarterly.

Earnings by demographics

Earnings data are available by demographic characteristics such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. See also Earnings by education and Employment and unemployment by demographics.

  • News release: Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage And Salary Workers (Quarterly)
    (HTML) (PDF) (Archives)

  • Frequently asked questions about CPS earnings data

  • Databases:
  • Annual tables: Weekly earnings

  • Annual report: Highlights of Women's Earnings
    This report includes earnings for men and women, with demographic characteristics such as age, education, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

    Earlier years (PDF only):

  • Looking for estimates of wives who earn more than their husbands?
    These data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau in table F-22.

  • Charts:
    • Women's and men's earnings by age in 2016 (August 2017)
    • Foreign-born workers made 83.1 percent of the earnings of their native-born counterparts in 2016 (May 2017)
    • Women's median earnings 82 percent of men's in 2016 (March 2017)
    • Women earn 88 percent as much as men in Hawaii, among the highest in 2015 (December 2016)
    • Women's earnings 83 percent of men's, but vary by occupation (January 2016)
    • Women's earnings compared to men's earnings in 2014 (November 2015)
    • Educational attainment and earnings of women (June 2014)
    • Median weekly earnings by sex, marital status, and presence and age of own children under 18 in 2012 (December 2013)
    • Women's earnings, 1979–2012 (November 2013)
    • Women's earnings by occupation, 2011 (January 2013)
    • Women's earnings, 1979–2011 (November 2012)
    • Women's earnings as a percent of men's in 2010 (January 2012)
    • Earnings and employment by occupation, race, ethnicity, and sex, 2010 (September 2011)
    • Women's earnings, 1979–2010 (July 2011)
    • Women at Work, Spotlight on Statistics (March 2011), includes CPS and other BLS survey data
    • Women's earnings and employment by industry, 2009 (February 2011)
    • Usual weekly earnings in second quarter 2010 by education (July 2010)
    • Women's-to-men's earnings ratio by age, 2009 (July 2010)
    • Women's earnings as a percentage of men's, by race and Hispanic ethnicity, 1979–2008 (October 2009)
    • Women and men in management, professional, and related occupations, 2008 (August 2009)
    • Women's-to-men's earnings ratio by age, 1979–2008 (July 2009)
    • Women's earnings by occupation in 2007 (October 2008)
    • Earnings of women and men by race and ethnicity, 2007 (October 2008)
    • Women's earnings as a percentage of men's by age, 1979–2007 (October 2008)
  • Articles:
    • Women still underrepresented among highest earners (March 2006) (PDF)
    • How does gender play a role in the earnings gap? an update (March 2003) (PDF)

Earnings by education

Data measure usual hourly and weekly earnings of wage and salary workers 25 years and over by educational attainment. See also Employment and unemployment by educational attainment.

Hourly-paid workers

Data pertain only to workers who are paid hourly rates; salaried and other workers not paid by the hour are excluded. Hourly-paid workers make up approximately three-fifths of all wage and salary workers. See also Minimum wage workers.

Minimum wage workers

Statistics on hourly-paid workers with earnings at or below the prevailing Federal minimum wage.

Occupation and industry

Data measure usual hourly and weekly earnings of wage and salary workers by occupation and by industry. See also Employment by occupation and industry.

  • News release: Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary workers (Quarterly)
    (HTML) (PDF) (Archives)

  • Frequently asked questions about CPS earnings data

  • Databases:
  • Annual table: Earnings by detailed occupation and sex (HTML) (PDF)

  • Charts:
  • Articles:
    • Change in employment by occupation, industry, and earnings quartile, 2000–05 (December 2006) (PDF)
    • Earnings and employment trends in the 1990s (March 2000) (PDF)
  • Occupational and industry classifications used in the CPS
  • More information on the CPS occupational and industry classifications

Union earnings

Median weekly earnings for union and non-union full-time wage and salary workers are published annually. Occupation and industry detail is available and, additionally, demographic characteristics such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic ethnicity. See also Union members.

Working poor

Annual report on persons who, during the year, spent 27 weeks or more in the labor force (working or looking for work), but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level.

IMPORTANT BLS discovered errors in some estimates in the Profile of the Working Poor series of reports for 2012 and earlier years. Learn more about the errors and access corrected data.


Last Modified Date: December 21, 2017

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