New data shows TN was among lowest in weekly wage increases before COVID-19

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Tennesseans saw among the lowest weekly wage increases in 2019.

The bureau updated their 2019 data to reflect the full 4th quarter and compared it with wage data from the previous year. The weekly earnings reports reflect the weekly earnings of wage and salary workers.

According to the data, Tennessee saw a 1.6% increase in average weekly earnings compared to 2018. The December 2018 average weekly wage was $1,031 while December 2019 saw an increase of just $16 with $1,047 on average per week.

The percentage change was among the lowest in the nation according to the data. Oklahoma recorded a 1.4% increase and Rhode Island 1.1% while West Virginia saw a -1.4% drop in wages. Tennessee was among the handful of states to record 2.5% or below.

The state did show gains over the same time period in the number of business establishments with a 3% increase. In 2019, the state added 4,989 business establishments which also helped in seeing employment gains.

The report highlights what was a continuing trend in the state of increased employment but low wage increases. Of course, these totals are all reflective of data before the COVID-19 outbreak which was responsible for the highest unemployment rate in the state ever recorded.