Blog

September 21 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Average workers’ compensation rates could go up 3.1% next year—the largest increase since 2011

Today the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) proposed increasing average workers’ compensation rates by 3.1% for 2022. According to L&I, base rates will increase for 230 of the state’s 325 risk classes (here are the proposed rates by risk class). If the rate increase is adopted later this year, it will be the first […]


September 01 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Court of Appeals: Washington’s method of determining prevailing wages is unconstitutional

The state Court of Appeals has held that the method Washington uses to determine prevailing wages for public works projects is unconstitutional. As defined in state law, the prevailing wage is “the rate of hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime paid in the locality . . . to the majority of workers, laborers, or mechanics, […]


June 17 , 2021 - Emily Makings

How high will the long-term care payroll tax need to be to maintain solvency?

Geekwire ran an item earlier this week about the state’s impending payroll tax to fund long-term care (LTC) benefits. The program was enacted in 2019, the tax will begin to be collected Jan. 1, 2022, and benefits will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2025. We wrote about the program in a 2019 policy brief. The […]


June 15 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Growth in state average annual wage is the highest ever

In 2020, the state average annual wage was $76,741—an increase of 10.1% over 2019. According to the Employment Security Department (ESD), this is the largest annual percentage growth to the average wage ever. The higher than normal increase in reported average wages can be attributed to the fact that thousands of lower-paid workers lost their […]


April 15 , 2021 - Emily Makings

To opt out of the long-term care program, private coverage will have to be purchased by Nov. 1

In 2019, the Legislature passed a payroll tax to fund a new long-term care (LTC) benefit. Under the legislation, the tax will begin on Jan. 1, 2022 and will initially be set at a rate of 0.58%. There is no cap on the wages subject to the tax. The lifetime maximum benefit is essentially $36,500 […]


March 11 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Merging two closed state retirement funds could save the state hundreds of millions in 2021–23

The operating budget proposals from Senate and House Republicans would save around $700 million in 2021–23 by merging the assets and liabilities of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) plan 1 with the Law Enforcement Officers’ and Firefighters’ System (LEOFF) plan 1. (Both plans are closed to new members.) According to the state’s most recent actuarial […]


January 14 , 2021 - WRC

New brief: Unemployment Insurance Taxes Will Be a Headwind for the State Economy

Unemployment insurance tax rates are adjusted annually and will be much higher this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount of unemployment insurance tax paid by Washington businesses is expected to increase dramatically, from $1.12 billion in 2020 to $2.11 billion in 2021 and then to $2.99 billion in 2022. This rising UI tax […]


December 28 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Washington will use federal CARES Act funds to provide “pandemic relief payments” in response to the lapse in federal unemployment insurance benefits

Earlier this month, Gov. Inslee announced that Washington would use $54.6 million of the state’s share of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for unemployment insurance benefits for people in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, if the federal government didn’t act to extend the program before it was set to expire on Dec. […]


November 06 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Washington again has the nation’s highest workers’ compensation benefit costs

According to a new report from the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), workers’ compensation benefit costs per covered worker in Washington were $769.52 in 2018. That is the highest in the country; Alaska came in second with $739.49. Benefit costs per covered worker in Washington had been declining since 2010, but in 2018 they […]


November 05 , 2020 - Emily Makings

Washington Supreme Court: Dairy worker exemption from state overtime law is unconstitutional

In a 5–4 opinion today, the state Supreme Court held that Washington’s overtime law applies to dairy workers. RCW 49.46.130 requires employers to pay overtime when an employee works more than 40 hours in a week. There are some exceptions, including for agricultural workers. Now, the Court has held that the agricultural exemption (RCW 49.46.130(2)(g)) […]