Politics & Government

Washington unemployment taxes going up again for employers

State officials say most employers' unemployment taxes are going up for the second year in a row, and it's the highest average rate since 1988.

Washington's Employment Security Department is sending out 2011's tax-rate notices this week to more than 170,000 businesses. The agency says next year's average rate will be 3.26 percent, up from 2.39 percent for 2010.

The range of low and high rates for most employers will be 1.33 percent to 6 percent. Unemployment tax rates are set according to a formula in state law.

Officials say a record level of unemployment payments are driving the new rate hikes. In the past year, the state says it paid about $2 billion in unemployment benefits, compared with about $1.2 billion in tax collections.