Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash

Driven by the strong demand for workers and hiring challenges faced by businesses across various sectors, the state’s average annual wage grew by 7.5 percent to $82,508 in 2021, marking the second largest increase on record, according to a recent report from the state's Employment Security Department.

While all industry sectors experienced average wage growth in 2021, the greatest wage growth occurred in industry sectors with large numbers of lower-wage workers, such as:

  • Leisure and hospitality, up 14.2 percent;
  • Transportation and warehousing, up 7.6 percent; and 
  • Retail trade, up 6.5 percent.

The average weekly wage also rose from $1,475 in 2020 to $1,586 in 2021. These figures include only those wages that are covered by unemployment insurance, according the ESD.

The change was driven by a 2.9 percent increase in the number of jobs in covered employment and a 10.6 percent increase in total earnings, which grew by nearly $25.7 billion in 2021. The average number of workers in Washington covered by unemployment insurance rose from 3,166,878 in 2020 to 3,257,983 in 2021 — an increase of 91,105 workers, according to the ESD.

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