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WA Employment Security reports 2,300 fewer jobs available last month but 2021 wages were up 7.5%

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The average annual wage for Washington residents grew by 7.5% in 2021 to $82,508, according to a recent press release from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD). This is the second largest increase on record and only includes wages covered by unemployment insurance.

All industry sectors experienced some average wage growth in 2021 according to the ESD, with largest increases occurring in industries large numbers of lower-wage workers. These included the following.

  • Leisure & hospitality, up 14.2%
  • Transportation and warehousing, up 7.6%
  • Retail trade, up 6.5%

The average weekly wage also rose from $1,475 in 2020 to $1,586 in 2021.

During 2021, there was a 2.9% increase in employment covered by unemployment insurance (an increase of 91,105 workers) and a 10.6% increase in total earnings.

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More recently, Washington’s economy suffered a net loss of 2,300 jobs in May of 2022 according to another recent ESD press release. The largest job losses were concentrated in the following 2 industries.

  • retail trade, down 6,600 jobs
  • professional & business services, down 3,800 jobs

January 2021 was the last time Washington state, overall, lost jobs according to the ESD.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 38,135 people statewide in May, a 15% decrease of 6,826 over April. Significant decreases in unemployment claims in construction, agriculture, and transportation & warehousing industries contributed to the overall decrease according to the ESD. 

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