Let's file this one under "Headscratchers."
The U.S. Labor Department this week released weekly wages data for the first quarter of this year, breaking out the numbers for the country's largest counties. Among the three Nashville-area counties included in that set, one posted a drop in weekly pay — and it's likely not the one you're thinking of. Weekly wages in Williamson County finished Q1 at $1,189, a drop of almost 1 percent from the mark of early 2013. By contrast, the average weekly wage in Davidson County climbed 3.3 percent to $1,041 and in Rutherford County rose 2.3 percent. Among Tennessee's largest counties, only Shelby outpaced the national average of 3.8 percent.
Here's a link to the full searchable list at the Journal's Real Time Economics blog.
Prison manager Corrections Corp. of America has paid $8 million in back wages and benefits to more than 360 people who have worked or are still working with federal inmates at its facility in California City, north of Los Angeles. But the company contends the U.S. Department of Labor's order to do so was a wrongful retroactive amendment to its contract and plans to appeal for a cost hike to cover its payouts.
UPDATE: The company has issued a statement explaining the situation
Prison health services company Corizon has been fined $71,000 and issued a "willful violation" notice by the U.S. Department of Labor because more than 40 of the company's employees have been attacked while working at the Rikers Island prison in New York City. Brentwood-based Corizon, which has a $126 million-a-year contract at Rikers through the end of 2015, says it will contest the findings.
Recently released U.S. Department of Labor statistics show the average weekly pay in Davidson County rose 9 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period for 2011. The county's increase ranks above that of the U.S. average of 5.4 percent.
Nationally, Davidson County ranked 18th highest in average pay growth, placing in the top 6 percent of large counties in the U.S. Knox (Knoxville), Hamilton (Chattanooga) and Davidson counties placed in the highest 20 percent in pay growth, while Rutherford, Shelby (Memphis) and Williamson counties placed in the top 45 percent.
Tennessee average weekly pay rose 6.8 percent over the year, ranking the state eighth highest among the 50 states. By contrast, North Dakota rose 14.6 percent, the highest average pay growth, while New York experienced the lowest growth at negative 0.8 percent over the year.
For months, economists and others have bemoaned the tepid recovery in the labor market even as other economic indicators were picking up steam. December's job numbers, which pushed down the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent, should put to rest those grumblings — at least for a little while. Here are reports from the AP and the Times.
The December report painted a picture of a broadly improving job market. Average hourly pay rose, providing consumers with more income to spend. The average workweek lengthened, a sign that business is picking up and companies may soon need more workers. And hiring was strong across almost all major industries.
Jim Picerno says the job market — or more specifically, the Department of Labor researchers who track and then revise employment data — is signaling to us that the United States is not going back into recession anytime soon. Revisions to the private nonfarm payroll numbers have been positive each month since May, Picerno says.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS