L&I adopts 29 percent rate increase

The Department of Labor and Industries has adopted a 29 percent rate increase for 2003. It is the agency’s first general rate increase in eight years.

On Jan. 1, the average rate will rise from 36.9 cents for each hour worked to 47.6 cents.

Even with a 29 percent rate increase, Washington’s rate will still be among the lowest in the nation.

It is also well below the 40.5 percent increase proposed by the department in September.

Gov. Gary Locke called for the lower rate hike to help businesses suffering under the current economic downturn.

L&I Director Gary Moore said the lower rate is also in response to public testimony urging the department to phase in the increase over a longer period of time.

“I am pleased to see Labor and Industries is adopting a much lower rate to help soften the impact on Washington businesses,” Locke said. “While the agency has stated the need to raise the rate after eight years of reductions and reimbursements, we also need to do what we can to lessen the burden on our state’s businesses in these tight economic times.”

The new rate will add $265 million of additional premiums to the workers’ compensation system, bringing revenues more in line with the cost of benefits paid to workers injured on the job.

In recent years, rates were reduced because of strong investment earnings.
In 1999 and 2000, L&I returned dividend checks to employers totalling $400 million.

In addition, over the past eight years, employers and workers benefited from $1.4 billion in rate reductions and deferred rates.

All told, employers and workers benefited by $1.8 billion.

For more information, please visit the state Department of Labor and Industries Website at www.LNI.wa.gov.