Roundup of year-end agency news

A number of agency announcements have made my inbox over the last month:

Unemployment Insurance: The Employment Security Department announced this month that UI tax rates will remain the same for all rate classes in 2017. The average tax rate will be about 1.24 percent in 2017 (down from 1.38 percent in 2016). The average tax paid per employee will be $232. As announced in July, the 2017 taxable wage base will be $45,000 (it was the highest in the nation in 2016 at $44,000).

Workers’ Compensation: The Department of Labor and Industries announced that workers’ compensation rates will increase by an average of 0.7 percent in 2017. (They increased by an average of 2 percent in 2016.) Opportunity Washington wrote about the increase here. Washington’s workers’ compensation benefit costs are the highest in the country (see here and here).

2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Summary: The State Auditor’s Office has published its summary of the state’s 2016 CAFR. It provides a good overview of the state’s financial situation. Some points of interest:

  • General obligation debt increased by 3 percent in 2016, to total $20.5 billion. “According to Moody’s Investors Service, Washington’s debt ratios are more than twice the national median level.”
  • In workers’ compensation, there is a $12.26 billion unfunded liability for supplemental pension cost-of-living adjustments. “This will put pressure on the Department of Labor and Industries to raise employer and employee premium rates or revamp benefits.”
  • Washington’s unemployment insurance trust fund has “one of the nation’s largest” cash balances, at $4.058 billion.

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