The average worker across Washington state now makes an annual salary of $56,273 after a year of slow income growth that lags far behind soaring housing costs.
Pay rose an average of 2.6 percent among all workers in 2015, down from a growth rate of 4.2 percent a year earlier, the state Employment Security Department reported Friday. It’s also lower than the wage growth reported in 2012 (3.4 percent) and 2011 (3.6 percent), but beat out the 2 percent pay bump reported in 2013. Overall, it’s the third-slowest wage growth in any of the past 10 years.
The pay raise means the typical Washington resident made $1,444 more in 2015 than the year before. Looking at weekly wages, pay rose from $1,054 to $1,082.
The wage bump is similar to inflation, but failed to keep pace with surging growth in housing costs, which usually eat up the biggest portion of Americans’ paychecks.
Washington is now the state with the fastest-rising home prices in the country — growing more than 10 percent in the past year. Rents in several cities are soaring at double-digit rates, as well.
Washingtonians now make 16.5 percent more than the rest of the country. The average U.S. wage last year was $48,320, or nearly $8,000 a year less than in Washington, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Last year’s 2.6 percent pay rise in the state is similar to the national trend, where pay went up 2.3 percent from May 2014 to May 2015, the most recent data available.
As of the middle of last year, Washington ranked eighth in the country for highest average pay, behind Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
The state said the industry that saw the largest wage growth was construction, where pay increased 5.9 percent, followed by management of companies and enterprises (up 5.7 percent) and retail trade (up 5.2 percent).
The county with the highest pay is King ($1,463 a week), followed by Snohomish ($1,051) and Benton ($968). People in Okanogan County make the least at $583 a week.