The state average wage increased in 2016, which will affect some state programs with benefits tied to it

According to the Employment Security Department, the average annual wage in the state increased to $58,957 in 2016. (The 4.8 percent increase over 2015 is apparently the largest percentage increase since 2007.) The 2016 average weekly wage was $1,133.

This means that the minimum weekly unemployment benefit for new unemployment insurance claims will increase to $169 (from $162) and the maximum benefit will increase to $713 (from $681). Also, for 2018, unemployment taxes will be paid by employers on the first $47,300 of an employee's wages. Currently Washington’s taxable wage base is $45,000—the highest in the country

Additionally, the Department of Labor & Industries has announced that due to the average wage increase, workers’ compensation time-loss and pension benefits will increase by 4.8 percent. The new maximum monthly benefit is $5,895.70. 

Going forward, the state average wage will also factor into the calculation of benefits under the new paid family and medical leave program. (SSB 5975 was passed by the Legislature June 30, and Gov. Inslee will take action on the bill this afternoon.) But, under the bill, benefits are not available until Jan. 1, 2020. 

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