Washington’s average annual wage increased by 4.2 percent in 2014 to $54,829, the state Employment Security Department reported this week.
This is the largest percentage increase since 2007, the department stated in a release.
The average weekly wage rose to $1,054, up from $1,012 in in 2013. Total earnings grew by nearly $9.7 billion in 2014 to $161.5 trillion, a 6.4 percent increase. Overall, the average number of workers in Washington covered by unemployment insurance grew by 62,942 to more than 2.9 million in 2014.
These figures include only those wages that are covered by unemployment insurance.
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The three industries with the largest average wage growth in 2014 were the information sector, up 10.3 percent; arts, entertainment and recreation, up 6.5 percent; and retail trade, up 4.3 percent, the department stated.
The department uses the average annual wage to calculate unemployment benefits for jobless workers. The minimum weekly unemployment benefit, calculated at 15 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase from $151 to $158 for new claims opened on or after July 5, 2015. At the same time, the maximum weekly benefit, calculated at 63 percent of the average weekly wage, will increase from $637 to $664.
Currently, about 12 percent of unemployment insurance claimants receive the maximum benefit amount, and 8 percent get the minimum.
The department also uses the average annual wage to compute employers’ unemployment taxes. Beginning in 2016, employers will pay unemployment taxes on the first $44,000 paid to each employee, up from $42,100 in 2015.