Durham County’s 2012 third-quarter weekly wage average down

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 07:36 PM

Durham County’s average weekly wage was down 2.9 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of last year to $1,220, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The county’s average weekly wage in the quarter was down from the average reported for the third-quarter of 2011, but it was up compared with the preliminary second-quarter 2012 average of $1,181.

In the first quarter, the county’s average wage was $1,380, the highest it had been in any quarter since at least 2002.

Casey Steinbacher, president and CEO of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, said in an email that the fluctuations are normal.

“We have seen nothing in the data that gives us pause to be concerned right now,” Steinbacher said. “Having said that, the long-term, cumulative effect of stagnant wage growth can be troublesome if the economy takes a turn towards recession or inflation.”

But she said there is no indication for either.

James Kleckley, director of the East Carolina University Bureau of Business Research, said in an email that he believes the most noteworthy item in the data is an increase in employment in September of last year in the county.

Durham County’s employment grew 2.4 percent year-over-year in September 2012, according to the preliminary data.

“If those employees were new, the lower average wage would not be that surprising,” Kleckley said.

Among the nine other large U.S. counties in North Carolina included in the bureau’s third-quarter data released Thursday, Durham County’s average weekly wage was the highest. Large counties were included that had employment levels of 75,000 or greater using 2011 preliminary annual employment averages.

Mecklenburg County’s average weekly wage grew 0.7 percent to $1,055 in the third quarter of last year compared to the same period in the prior year, according to the data. Wake’s average weekly wage grew 0.7 percent to $899. Forsyth County’s average fell 1.8 percent to $838, and Guilford County’s average was flat year-over-year at $810.

Among the 328 largest U.S. counties included in the data, the bureau reported that 274 had year-over-year declines in average weekly wages in the quarter.

Across the nation, the U.S. average weekly wage fell by 1.1 percent year-over-year to $906 in the third quarter. That was one of only six year-over-year average weekly wage declines dating to 1978, when the first quarterly data became available.