Grays Harbor and Pacific counties feature average annual wages lower than most of state
This photo shows a sign at the headquarters for Washington state's Employment Security Department Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's rush to get unemployment benefits to residents who lost jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak left it vulnerable to criminals who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington’s average annual wage grew by 7.5% in 2021 to $82,508, according to the state Employment Security Department

According to ESD, the strong demand for workers and hiring difficulties across different sectors drove average wage growth in 2021 to the second largest in more than two decades.

All industry sectors experienced average wage growth in 2021, with the greatest wage growth in industry sectors with large numbers of lower-wage workers.

This includes:

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

While the stateside average annual wage is above $80,000, the local average is much lower while still seeing increases year-over-year.

In Grays Harbor, the average annual wage in 2021 was $48,976, a 5.2% increase over 2020. 

For Pacific County, the average annual wage was $42,501 in 2021, which was a 3.33% increase over 2020.

If converted from standard working hour salary to hourly wages, that would mean a Grays Harbor worker averages $23.55 an hour, and $20.43 an hour in Pacific County.

Compared to the rest of the state, Grays Harbor ranks 23rd out of the 39 counties. Pacific County sits at the third lowest average annual wage statewide. The only counties lower than Pacific were Wahkiakum and Okanogan counties.

The Twin Harbor placements are the same as they were in 2020, although Pacific County rose one space in 2020 from the second lowest statewide average in 2019.

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

The Grays Harbor weekly wage in 2021 sat at $942. With Pacific County workers averaging $817 a week.

Economists say the weekly average change was driven by a 2.9% increase in the number of jobs in covered employment and a 10.6% 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.

ESD says that the average annual wage is used to calculate:

  • Unemployment benefit claims filed on or after July 3, 2022.
  • Paid family and medical leave (paid leave) benefits filed on or after Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Employers’ taxable wage base beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

The state Department of Labor & Industries also uses the average annual wage to calculate worker’s compensation benefits.