Media contact: Janelle Guthrie, communications director, 360-902-9289

OLYMPIA – Washington’s average annual wage grew by 2.6 percent in 2015 to $56,273, according to the state Employment Security Department.

The average weekly wage rose from $1,054 in 2014 to $1,082 in 2015. These figures include only those wages that are covered by unemployment insurance.

Much of the increase was driven by a 5.9 percent increase in total earnings, which grew by nearly $9.5 billion in 2015. Overall, the average number of workers in Washington covered by unemployment insurance grew by 94,629 in 2015.  

The industries with the largest average wage growth in 2015 were:

  • Construction, up 5.9 percent;
  • Management of companies and enterprises, up 5.7 percent; and
  • Retail trade, up 5.2 percent.

The average annual wage is used to calculate unemployment benefits for jobless workers. The minimum weekly unemployment benefit, calculated at 15 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase by $4 to $162, for new claims opened on or after July 3. At the same time, the maximum weekly benefit, calculated at 63 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase by $17 to $681. 

Currently, about 20 percent of unemployment insurance claims are paid the maximum benefit amount, and 10 percent receive the minimum.

In addition to unemployment benefits, the average annual wage is used in computing employers’ unemployment taxes. Beginning in 2017, employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $45,000 paid to each employee—up from $44,000 in 2016

The state average wage also is used by the Department of Labor & Industries in calculating worker’s compensation benefits.


Web links

Employment Security Department – www.esd.wa.gov