A new federal report found wages rose significantly across Washington state last fall, including in Thurston County.
The average weekly wage was $996 in Thurston County in September, a 5.1 percent increase compared to the same period in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average salary increase across Washington state was 6.2 percent, ranking it second highest in the U.S. The national average increase was 3.3 percent, according to the report.
King County played a big role in the state increase, with wages rising there 7.9 percent to an average weekly wage of $1,752. That was the second highest percentage increase across the nation.
Wage increases were strong across the state because it has pockets of large employers such as Amazon that expanded last year, said Jim Vleming, a regional labor economist for the state Employment Security Department. He said companies along the I-5 corridor were driving a lot of the wage growth, but in other parts of the state, low unemployment and a boost in higher-paying construction jobs played a role, too.
Vleming believes wages will continue to rise, even if the unemployment rate creeps up. Wage growth lagged even when unemployment was low a few years ago, so it might take some time before it slows down. At this point the data suggests state unemployment shouldn’t see big jumps in the near future, he said.
“There was a long time when we didn’t see a lot of wage growth, so this is a positive turn,” Vleming said in an interview.