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Glossary of terms

This glossary defines terms related to the economy and the job market.
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Absolute advantage

The economic situation in which an individual, firm, country or region is able to produce a given amount of goods or services for a lower cost (such as cost of labor) relative to a competitor. E.g., American agricultural workers have an absolute advantage compared to Chinese agricultural workers. The American farmworker produces over $70,000 of output per year, compared to a Chinese farmworker who produces about $3,000 worth of output per year.

Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)

The hourly wage rate that must be paid to foreign contract laborers under the H-2A program, a temporary federal agriculture program. The AEWR is determined by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Agricultural employment

Workers employed in agriculture, including hired workers who are paid a wage or salary, unpaid family workers, the self-employed and migrant workers.

Appreciation of the U.S. dollar

The U.S. dollar appreciates against a foreign currency when the dollar buys an increased quantity of that foreign currency. Generally, appreciation of the U.S. dollar makes U.S. exports (including agricultural exports) more expensive to other nations.


The number derived by dividing the sum of a set of values by the number of values. Also called the mean.

Average annual employment

The average number of people employed in a specific year in an occupation or industry.

Average annual openings

The annual number of job openings expected in an industry occupation due to growth and replacement of workers who leave that industry or occupation.

Average annual pay

Average annual pay is calculated by dividing annual pay by 12 (the number of months in a year). Pay includes wages, bonuses, severance pay, the cash value of meals and lodging, tips and employer-paid contributions to individual retirement accounts.

Average hourly earnings

Earnings calculated by dividing gross pay by total hours. Earnings include premium shift pay.

Average weekly wage

Weekly wage calculated by dividing annual wages by 52 (the number of weeks in a year).