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Median and hourly wages

The median and average hourly wage tables include annual data going back to 1990 for the state and each county. Unadjusted, inflation-adjusted and annualized data are listed, as well as a breakout for the private sector. The U.S. Personal Consumption Expenditure Implicit Price Deflator was used to convert nominal wages to constant-dollar (2018) wages.

What is the data source for this report?

The data are drawn from quarterly unemployment insurance tax returns, which list every job covered by unemployment insurance, the wages earned and the hours worked. Federal jobs are not included. Due to differences in data screening and computation methods, these statistics are not directly comparable to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages figures published elsewhere.

How are the wage rates calculated?

The hourly wage rates are based on quarterly wage files. The hourly wage rate for a job is calculated by dividing quarterly wages by hours worked in the quarter. Jobs are then converted to a full-time equivalent (FTE) job based on the hours worked in the quarter. An FTE job is defined as 8 hours per day over the quarter. Typically that comes to 520 hours in a quarter.

The 2021 median hourly wage is the boundary between highest-paid 50 percent of jobs and the lowest-paid 50 percent of jobs. Half of all FTE jobs have an hourly wage less than or equal to the median and half are paid more than or equal to the median. This calculation can apply to a geographic area or to an industry. Note that the geography is based on the location of the employer, not the residence of the worker.

The 2021 average hourly wage is computed by adding the total wages for a region or industry and dividing by the total hours worked. It will typically be higher than the median, because wage distributions are skewed – a relatively few higher-wage workers will lift the average above the median.

The FTE employment by hourly wages are based on a full-time-equivalent basis, where 1 FTE job = 2,088 hours worked during 2019. FTE will be less than monthly employment from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which counts a part-time job as one job. Employment records at multi-site locations are assigned by an algorithm to match the proportion of employment and payroll at that site. With differing minimum hourly wages around the state, their will likely be sub-minimum wage records allotted to Seattle/King County and higher hourly wage records allotted to other areas.   


Washington Wage Report, 2019

 This 2019 wage report is usually included in the Employment Security Department’s annual Labor Market and Economic Report. However, that analysis was delayed this year due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two data sets were used in this report. For trends in hourly wage rates, the state’s quarterly wage files were used. These files include the wages earned, hours worked, and employer for every non-federal employee in the state, for every quarter (three-month period) going back to 1990.

The second data source was the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) database, a partnership of the Census Bureau and the states. The LED provides an average monthly wage for each quarter going back to 1990 by county, industry, and demographics like gender, age, race, ethnicity and education.