unemployment insurance

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.

Roundup of year-end agency news

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

Washington average wage increases -- so will UI benefits and taxes and workers' comp COLAs

Last week the Employment Security Department (ESD) reported that the state's average annual wage was $56,273 in 2015 (a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year). This has implications for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and taxes and workers' compensation benefits.

Audit finds $420,363 in UI benefits were improperly paid to people in jail

Yesterday the State Auditor's Office (SAO) released an audit that identified people who received unemployment insurance (UI) benefits while in jail (and thus likely ineligible for UI benefits). The audit covers the period of July 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014, and it looked at just eight jails (of 57). Still, it found 1,911 potential overpayments worth $655,736.

Washington's average wage increases, affecting UI taxes and benefits

Today the Employment Security Department reported that Washington's average annual wage was $54,829 last year (an increase of 4.2 percent over 2013). The average weekly wage was $1,054.

Increase in state average wage will impact unemployment insurance and workers' comp

Today the Employment Security Department announced that Washington's average annual wage was $51,595 in 2012. That's up from $49,894 in 2011.

Both unemployment insurance (UI) and workers' compensation benefits are calculated using the average annual wage. As the announcement notes,

Unemployment Insurance and Workers' Compensation Rates for 2013

Today the Employment Security Department (ESD) announced that unemployment insurance rates will either stay the same or be reduced for most employers in Washington for 2013.

Maps of Unemployment Benefits Maximum Duration Since 2008

In 2008, the federal government enacted temporary emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) for people who run out of their regular state unemployment benefits. The program expires at the end of the year. Washington workers are eligible for 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits, and under the EUC program, they may currently be eligible for 37 additional weeks, for a total of 63 weeks.

New Brief: Labor Costs in Washington

In a new policy brief today, we take a general look at some aspects of labor costs in Washington. Unemployment insurance and workers' compensation have been reformed recently by the legislature, but they remain costly compared to other states. Additionally, Washington's minimum wage is the highest in the country, and laws regarding prevailing wage, paid family leave, and paid sick leave also contribute to labor costs.

2012 Workers' Comp and UI Taxes

Today the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) and the Employment Security Department announced the workers' compensation and unemployment insurance tax rates for 2012.

For workers' compensation, there will be no overall increase in premiums.  The L&I press release states: