With the increase in the minimum wage in SeaTac to $15 an hour and Seattle not far behind in doing the same, it may raise curiosity around what our state’s average wage was last year and if it will continue to increase. Today, the Employment Security Department announced that the state’s average annual wage saw an increase to over $52,000, or about two percent. In weekly terms, that’s a change from $992 to $1012.
Wage information is gathered from company data showing employees that are covered by unemployment insurance. This data makes up about 96% of total salary jobs. The main reason our state saw an increase in the annual salary is due to the number of insured employees receiving a salary greater than $75,000. Other contributors include the average number of employees covered by unemployment insurance increased almost 3% to more than 75,000, and the state also saw an increase in total earnings of nearly 5%, or close to $7 billion.
Industries that saw the highest increase from a salary perspective in 2013 include the company management sector, which increased by almost 12%; arts, entertainment and recreation, which increased by about 11%; and retail trade, which saw an increase of nearly 9%. Given the minimum wage increase in SeaTac this year and the bill signed to make the same increase for Seattle, it’s projected that the average annual wage will likely increase again for 2014; however, this data probably will not be available until this same timeframe next year, in 2015.
The average annual wage is instrumental when it comes to calculating worker’s compensation benefits as well as unemployment benefits. Currently, unemployed workers receive 15% of the average weekly wage. With the increase seen in 2013, this means those receiving unemployment, starting with new claims created on or after July 6, will receive at least the minimum weekly amount of $151, up to the maximum weekly amount of $637. The state reports that currently, about 12% of unemployment claims receive the maximum benefit amount while 8% receive the minimum.
The unemployed may see a benefit with this reported increase in average wage; however, employers will see a slight increase when it comes to what they will pay unemployment taxes on in 2015. This year, employers paid unemployment taxes on the first $41,300 that employees were paid. Next year, that will go up slightly to $42,100.