The Bellingham Business Journal
The loss of thousands of low-paying jobs helped to increase the average wage in Washington in 2009, according to the Employment Security Department. Statistics for individual economic regions are not yet available.
The 1.9 percent increase drove the average annual wage in the state up to $47,153, the smallest increase since 2004. The average weekly wage was $906.
Among other things, the average wage is used to compute unemployment benefits for jobless workers. Because the average wage increased in 2009, the minimum and maximum unemployment benefits will go up for new unemployment claims beginning next month.
The minimum weekly unemployment benefit, calculated at 15 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase by $2, to $135, for new claims opened on or after July 4. The maximum weekly benefit, calculated at 63 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase by $10, to $570.
Currently, about 24 percent of unemployment insurance claims are paid the maximum benefit amount, and 6 percent receive the minimum. Claims opened before July 4 will not see a change in the minimum or maximum benefit.
In addition to unemployment benefits, the average annual wage is used in computing employers’ unemployment taxes. Beginning in 2011, employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $37,300 paid to each employee, up from $36,800 in 2010. As a reference point, about one-third of all employees in Washington earned more than $37,300 last year.
The state average wage also is used by the Department of Labor & Industries in calculating worker’s compensation benefits.