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News Release Information

21-918-SAN
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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Technical information:
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  • (415) 625-2270

County Employment and Wages in Washington – Third Quarter 2020

Employment decreased in Washington’s 10 large counties from September 2019 to September 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (Large counties are those with annual average employment levels of 75,000 or more in 2019.) Regional Commissioner Chris Rosenlund noted that employment decreases ranged from 7.6 percent in Snohomish and Whatcom Counties to 5.4 percent in Yakima County. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

Chart 1. Over-the-year percent change in covered employment among the largest counties in Washington, September 2020

National employment decreased 6.8 percent over the year, with 355 of the 357 largest U.S. counties reporting declines. Maui + Kalawao, HI, had the largest over-the-year decrease in employment with a loss of 35.4 percent. Utah, UT, experienced the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment with a gain of 1.9 percent.

Among the 10 largest counties in Washington, employment was highest in King County (1,340,000) in September 2020. Pierce and Snohomish Counties had employment levels of 300,200 and 271,500, respectively. Together, the 10 largest Washington counties accounted for 85.1 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 357 largest counties made up 72.9 percent of total U.S. employment.

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 29 counties in Washington with employment below 75,000. Wage levels in all 29 smaller counties were below the national average in the third quarter of 2020. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes

The 10 large Washington counties reported average weekly wage gains from the third quarter of 2019 to the third quarter of 2020. (See chart 2.) Four counties had rates of wage gains above the national rate of 7.4 percent. King County had the largest gain (+14.3 percent), followed by Kitsap County (+9.8 percent), Clark County (+8.5 percent), and Whatcom County (+7.9 percent). Over-the-year wage gains among Washington’s other six large counties ranged from 7.2 percent to 6.2 percent.

Among the 357 largest counties in the United States, 350 had over-the-year wage increases. Nationally, the increases in average weekly wages largely reflect substantial employment loss among lower-paid industries. Employment declines occurring in some higher-paid industries also feature significant wage increases. San Mateo, CA, had the largest percentage wage increase (+23.2 percent). Seven large counties had wage declines during the period. Ector, TX, had the largest over-the-year percentage decrease (-11.0 percent).

Chart 2. Over-the-year percent change in covered average weekly wages among the largest counties in Washington, third quarter 2020

Large county average weekly wages

Average weekly wages in three of Washington’s large counties placed in the top third of the national ranking. King County ($2,077, 5th), Snohomish County ($1,243, 73rd), and Benton County ($1,175, 95th) had weekly wages that exceeded the national average of $1,173 in the third quarter of 2020. Yakima County ($843, 341st) had the lowest average weekly wage among the state’s large counties and placed in the bottom third of the largest U.S. counties.

Among the largest U.S. counties, 96 reported average weekly wages above the U.S. average in the third quarter of 2020. San Mateo, CA, had the highest average weekly wage at $2,922. Average weekly wages were at or below the national average in 261 counties. At $697 a week, Cameron, TX, had the lowest average weekly wage.

Average weekly wages in Washington’s smaller counties

All 29 counties in Washington with employment below 75,000 had average weekly wages lower than the national average of $1,173. Among these counties, Cowlitz County had the highest average weekly wage at $1,086. Wahkiakum County reported the lowest weekly wage among all counties in the state, averaging $711 in the third quarter of 2020.

When all 39 counties in Washington were considered, 2 had wages below $800. Fifteen counties had average weekly wages ranging from $800 to $899, 8 had wages from $900 to $999, and 14 had wages at or above $1,000. (See chart 3.)

Additional statistics and other information

QCEW data for states have been included in this release in table 3. For additional information about quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit www.bls.gov/cew.

Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2019 edition of this publication was published in September 2020. Tables and additional content from the 2019 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online are available at www.bls.gov/cew/publications/employment-and-wages-annual-averages/2019/home.htm. The 2020 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in September 2021.

The County Employment and Wages release for fourth quarter 2020 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET). The County Employment and Wages full data update for fourth quarter 2020 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. (ET) .

QCEW Imputation Issue Caused by Pandemic-Related Challenges

In the spring of 2020, BLS modified its imputation process for QCEW to be more responsive to current economic conditions. While continuing work to improve this process, BLS made an unintended data processing error. This error affected data for the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2020. BLS has analyzed this issue and has determined that the impact on QCEW employment was negligible at the statewide level. In smaller areas and industries revisions may be larger than usual. Wage data were not affected. Following the usual QCEW practice these data will be revised and corrected with the full data update on September 1, 2021. 

For more information on QCEW imputation methodology, see www.bls.gov/cew/additional-resources/imputation-methodology.htm.


Technical Note

Average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries of employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing quarterly total wages by the average of the three monthly employment levels of those covered by UI programs. The result is then divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. It is to be noted, therefore, that over-the-year wage changes for geographic areas may reflect shifts in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and such other factors as hours of work. Thus, wages may vary among counties, metropolitan areas, or states for reasons other than changes in the average wage level. Data for all states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), counties, and the nation are available on the BLS web site at www.bls.gov/cew. However, data in QCEW press releases have been revised and may not match the data contained on the Bureau’s web site.

QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual establishment records reflecting the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons–some reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes.

The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual states as well as from the data presented on the BLS web site. These potential differences result from the states’ continuing receipt, review and editing of UI data over time. On the other hand, differences between data in this release and the data found on the BLS web site are the result of adjustments made to improve over-the-year comparisons. Specifically, these adjustments account for administrative (noneconomic) changes such as a correction to a previously reported location or industry classification. Adjusting for these administrative changes allows users to more accurately assess changes of an economic nature (such as a firm moving from one county to another or changing its primary economic activity) over a 12-month period. Currently, adjusted data are available only from BLS press releases.

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Covered employment and wages in the United States and the 10 largest counties in Washington, third quarter 2020
Area Establishments,
third quarter 2020
(thousands)
Employment Average weekly wage (1)
September 2020
(thousands)
Percent change,
September 2019–20 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)
Third quarter
2020
National ranking
by level (3)
Percent change,
third quarter 2019–20 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)

United States (4)

10,561.3 138,549.5 -6.8 -- $1,173 -- 7.4 --

Washington

256.6 3,266.2 -6.3 -- 1,482 3 11.0 2

Benton

6.2 88.6 -5.6 127 1,175 95 6.3 233

Clark

16.1 156.1 -5.7 136 1,148 112 8.5 95

King

91.7 1,340.0 -6.9 200 2,077 5 14.3 11

Kitsap

7.1 87.1 -5.6 127 1,117 134 9.8 49

Pierce

24.1 300.2 -6.4 178 1,114 141 7.1 181

Snohomish

22.4 271.5 -7.6 220 1,243 73 6.2 240

Spokane

17.2 218.1 -6.2 169 1,018 208 7.0 190

Thurston

8.9 113.2 -5.6 127 1,117 134 7.2 175

Whatcom

7.6 84.5 -7.6 220 1,007 221 7.9 131

Yakima

8.2 119.7 -5.4 120 843 341 6.4 227

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Percent changes were computed from quarterly employment and pay data adjusted for noneconomic county reclassifications.
(3) Ranking does not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(4) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

 Table 2. Covered employment and wages in the United States and all counties in Washington, third quarter 2020
Area Employment September 2020 Average Weekly Wage(1)

United States(2)

138,549,503 $1,173

Washington

3,266,168 1,482

Adams

9,224 848

Asotin

6,482 817

Benton

88,640 1,175

Chelan

43,097 867

Clallam

22,871 890

Clark

156,076 1,148

Columbia

1,396 966

Cowlitz

38,634 1,086

Douglas

12,766 814

Ferry

1,736 864

Franklin

34,821 913

Garfield

678 1,046

Grant

41,885 945

Grays Harbor

21,859 912

Island

16,134 896

Jefferson

9,005 846

King

1,340,019 2,077

Kitsap

87,081 1,117

Kittitas

15,076 880

Klickitat

7,038 1,028

Lewis

26,391 922

Lincoln

2,866 828

Mason

13,798 903

Okanogan

17,299 776

Pacific

6,252 807

Pend Oreille

2,791 914

Pierce

300,194 1,114

San Juan

5,633 838

Skagit

49,546 1,037

Skamania

1,944 831

Snohomish

271,526 1,243

Spokane

218,081 1,018

Stevens

10,885 837

Thurston

113,222 1,117

Wahkiakum

844 711

Walla Walla

28,517 922

Whatcom

84,474 1,007

Whitman

17,597 1,040

Yakima

119,714 843

Footnotes
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

NOTE: Includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs. Data are preliminary.

Table 3. Covered employment and wages by state, third quarter 2020
State Establishments,
third quarter 2020
(thousands)
Employment Average weekly wage (1)
September 2020
(thousands)
Percent change,
September 2019–20
Third quarter
2020
National ranking
by level
Percent change,
third quarter 2019–20
National ranking
by percent change

United States (2)

10,561.3 138,549.5 -6.8 $1,173 -- 7.4 --

Alabama

132.2 1,902.4 -4.5 978 33 6.4 27

Alaska

22.9 302.6 -10.7 1,165 14 5.4 42

Arizona

174.1 2,797.1 -4.2 1,091 22 7.3 17

Arkansas

93.6 1,180.1 -3.4 892 49 6.1 31

California

1,643.8 16,096.8 -9.2 1,466 4 12.0 1

Colorado

220.1 2,597.2 -5.6 1,235 9 5.6 38

Connecticut

125.4 1,555.6 -7.3 1,328 7 7.4 15

Delaware

34.9 428.8 -5.6 1,150 15 6.8 21

District of Columbia

43.3 713.7 -8.1 1,962 1 6.1 31

Florida

749.1 8,329.7 -5.8 1,029 27 8.0 11

Georgia

313.0 4,282.1 -5.2 1,084 23 5.8 35

Hawaii

46.5 507.5 -22.9 1,114 18 10.3 4

Idaho

70.7 763.7 -0.2 884 50 5.5 41

Illinois

385.9 5,558.5 -7.8 1,199 11 6.8 21

Indiana

172.4 2,941.8 -4.7 961 39 5.3 43

Iowa

105.1 1,475.0 -5.2 969 36 6.0 34

Kansas

89.2 1,325.4 -5.0 952 40 6.6 24

Kentucky

128.0 1,807.1 -5.5 935 43 5.8 35

Louisiana

139.5 1,734.6 -9.6 970 35 5.2 45

Maine

54.4 597.3 -5.9 966 37 9.0 9

Maryland

172.4 2,496.6 -7.6 1,277 8 9.5 7

Massachusetts

265.1 3,314.8 -9.4 1,488 2 9.7 6

Michigan

266.9 4,035.9 -7.9 1,096 20 7.5 14

Minnesota

183.1 2,703.3 -7.4 1,178 12 6.4 27

Mississippi

74.9 1,092.4 -4.0 810 51 5.6 38

Missouri

218.8 2,681.7 -5.1 995 32 5.6 38

Montana

53.0 466.9 -2.5 904 48 6.6 24

Nebraska

73.7 949.9 -3.8 964 38 6.4 27

Nevada

87.9 1,251.0 -11.6 1,048 24 7.8 13

New Hampshire

56.1 634.2 -5.2 1,171 13 8.9 10

New Jersey

289.3 3,778.4 -8.0 1,331 6 9.5 7

New Mexico

63.1 771.9 -8.6 944 41 5.1 46

New York

657.6 8,547.7 -10.8 1,446 5 10.0 5

North Carolina

301.4 4,308.2 -4.4 1,039 26 6.9 20

North Dakota

32.5 398.2 -7.0 1,025 28 -0.3 50

Ohio

305.7 5,136.8 -5.6 1,040 25 6.6 24

Oklahoma

112.4 1,538.5 -5.7 917 46 2.3 48

Oregon

164.6 1,837.3 -7.0 1,113 19 7.4 15

Pennsylvania

366.5 5,501.0 -7.6 1,139 17 7.0 19

Rhode Island

40.1 452.5 -8.0 1,092 21 10.4 3

South Carolina

146.6 2,022.9 -5.2 924 44 6.7 23

South Dakota

35.2 422.3 -2.6 918 45 7.2 18

Tennessee

173.6 2,918.1 -4.6 1,022 29 5.8 35

Texas

733.1 11,926.8 -5.5 1,150 15 3.8 47

Utah

114.3 1,518.2 -1.0 1,015 30 6.1 31

Vermont

26.4 283.9 -8.6 1,001 31 7.9 12

Virginia

285.7 3,737.0 -5.0 1,201 10 6.4 27

Washington

256.6 3,266.2 -6.3 1,482 3 11.0 2

West Virginia

51.7 649.1 -6.7 913 47 1.8 49

Wisconsin

181.2 2,746.6 -5.2 977 34 5.3 43

Wyoming

27.5 264.0 -6.8 939 42 -0.4 51

Puerto Rico

45.7 831.6 -5.3 547 (3) 3.4 (3)

Virgin Islands

3.4 33.9 -13.0 1,019 (3) -0.5 (3)

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(3) Data not included in the national ranking.

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

 

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2021