Washington Rates Workers’ Compensation Rate

Workers’ compensation rates in the state of Washington will climb by an average of 7.6 percent next year under changes adopted by state officials.

State Labor and Industries Director Judy Schurke (SHUR’-key) says the rate hike will raise about $117 million for the state-run insurance program, which pays lost wages, medical bills and pensions for injured workers.

Schurke says she wanted to keep the rate as low as possible because of the slow economy. But she says the increase will ensure the state will be able to pay its obligations.

Republican lawmakers have said the rate hike is too high for struggling businesses. They’ve called for reforms to help keep costs down.

Rate increases for workers’ compensation insurance in Washington in recent years have ranged from a 2 percent decrease in 2007 to a 3.4 percent increase last year, according to a release from the program. Over the past 15 years, yearly increases have averaged 2 percent, and dividends returned to ratepayers have totaled $2 billion.

The main reasons for the increase are medical costs and wages, the release said. Medical costs rose 8.5 percent last year. Wages rose 3.4 percent.