News release from the state:
Washington’s average annual wage grew by 3.6 percent in 2011, according to the state Employment Security Department.
The annual average went from $48,162 in 2010 to $49,894 in 2011. The average weekly wage rose from $926 to $959.
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 $5 to $143, for new claims opened on or after Sunday, July 1. At the same time, the maximum weekly benefit, calculated at 63 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase by $21, to $604.
Much of the wage increase was driven by a 7.5 percent increase in the number of insured workers earning more than $75,000. Overall, the number of workers in Washington covered by unemployment insurance grew by 37,764 in 2011, and earnings grew by $6.6 billion.
The three industries with the highest wage growth in 2011 were the information sector, with wage growth of 9.5 percent; company management, up 7.9 percent; and manufacturing, up 5 percent.
In addition to unemployment benefits, the average annual wage is used in computing employers’ unemployment taxes. Beginning in 2013, employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $39,800 paid to each employee, up from $38,200 in 2012.
The state average wage also is used by the Department of Labor & Industries in calculating worker’s compensation benefits.