Trend Tracker

Following economic trends in Washington state

  • Tuition at Washington State Public Colleges and Universities

    In 1990, full-time tuition and fees were $1,454 a year at community colleges, and $3,276 a year for the University of Washington. Since then, tuition and fees have increased dramatically. Full-time tuition and fees will total $4,000 per year at Washington’s community colleges in 2012-2013. At the University of Washington, tuition and fees total will total $12,383 next year, more than three times that of 1990.

    For a more in-depth interactive chart, click here »

    From Pay It Forward Last updated 10/25/2012

  • Employee Benefits

    Washington firms are less likely to provide every kind of benefit now than in 2002, when the Employment Security Department began collecting data. The proportion of firms providing health insurance for full-time workers dropped from 76% in 2002 to 56% in 2012, and fewer firms are providing retirement and paid leave benefits. In 2012, a number of Washington firms began offering undesignated leave benefits (such as Paid Time Off or "PTO" banks), rather than vacation and sick leave benefits.

    Part-time workers – the majority of whom are women – are far less likely to receive every type of employer-sponsored benefit. In 2012, only 17% of businesses provided retirement benefits and 22% provided paid holidays for part-time employees. Just 12% offered health benefits to part-timers.

    Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

    Data updated annually Last updated 07/24/2013

  • Monthly Unemployment Rate

    By the end of the Great Recession, Washington's average rate of unemployment was above 10%. It took nearly 18 months beyond the official end of the recession for the rate to begin dropping steadily. After stagnating through the middle months of 2013, the rate fell to 6.6% by the end of the year. By February 2014, Washington's unemployment rate reached 6.3%. At the same time, total employment numbers have been rising consistently since September 2013, while the civilian labor force has grown for the first time since April 2013. This indicates the most recent drop in unemployment is more attributable to increased employment, rather than people dropping out of the labor force.

    These official unemployment numbers do not include the many discouraged people who are no longer actively looking for employment, and others who are working part time or in “make-do” jobs because of the scarcity of desirable jobs. Some of these individuals are captured in the underemployment rate, which reached 18.4% for Washingtonians in 2010. By 2013, the rate of underemployment dropped to 14%.

    Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

    Data updated monthly Last updated 4/16/2014

  • Poverty

    Washington’s overall poverty rate has increased during the post-recession years, remaining persistently high in 2012. More than one in eight Washingtonians lived below the federal poverty level in 2012 - or income less than $23,283 for a family of four. Rates have increased for those earning near-poverty incomes, as well, with no change between 2011 and 2012. During both years, three in ten Washingtonians earned less than 200% of the federal poverty level. For families with children, rates are even higher – more than one in seven Washington families with children under 18 lived below the federal poverty level in 2012.

    Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

    Data updated annually Last updated 09/24/2013

  • Average Employment

    Washington’s average employment numbers are rising again post-recession, as the state has begun to slowly add jobs in most sectors. During the previous recession of the early 2000s, the state lost an average of 55,000 jobs before sectors began adding again. During the Great Recession, Washington’s industries shed more than three times that – nearly 173,000 jobs – before beginning to add in 2011. More than 41,000 jobs were added during 2013. Despite gains in the private sector, state government has continued to shed jobs, cutting more than 5,000 in 2013.

    Note: Data for 2014 is preliminary.

    Source: Washington State Employment Security Department

    Data updated monthly Last updated 4/16/2014

  • Minimum wage vs. Cost of Living in Washington state

    For nearly 300,000 people working at or near Washington’s minimum wage, the 15-cent cost-of-living adjustment (to $9.19 per hour) scheduled for January 1st, 2013 will help their paychecks keep up with the cost of living – but it’s far short of what the vast majority need to make ends meet. Note: More than 80% of minimum wage earners in Washington state are over 20 years of age.

    Last updated 11/01/2012