Report: Fewer Washington employers offer medical coverage to workers

Finding a job right now can be tough, and finding one that comes with medical benefits is even tougher.

Washington employers offering medical insurance fell 1.6 percentage points in 2009, from 56.5 percent to 54.9 percent, according to an annual employee-benefits report released today by the Employment Security Department. That’s following a nearly 10 percentage point drop in 2008 and smaller declines in the previous three years.

“Companies are continuing to cut back where they can, while still trying to keep their employees,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee. “Unfortunately, employee benefits are a victim of the economy and rising costs.”

The study also showed that average medical-insurance premiums for employees increased from $358 per month to $366 per month. Employers covered 83 percent of that cost in 2009, down from 86.4 percent in 2008.

The number of firms offering some type of retirement plan jumped from 37.7 percent in 2008 to 44.6 percent in 2009 — closer to the 2007 level of 44 percent.

Employers also were more generous with paid days off in 2009. Firms offering paid vacation increased from 63 percent to 65 percent. An estimated 63 percent of employers offered paid holidays and 21 percent offered paid sick days, compared to 60 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in 2008.

Employment Security has produced the benefits report annually since 2003. Approximately 10,000 Washington businesses responded to the survey.