Whatcom County wages rise 6.9 percent in third quarter of 2013

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 19, 2014 

Whatcom County wage report

Faber Construction workers Joe Gregory, left, and Connor Smith work on the roof of the new 15,000-square-foot Ferndale Public Library on Main Street in Ferndale near City Hall on Jan. 27, 2013. A new federal report shows Whatcom County posted a significant jump in wages during the third quarter of 2013.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Whatcom County posted a significant jump in wages during the third quarter of 2013, according to a new federal report.

The average local weekly wage was $807, a 6.9 percent increase compared to a year earlier, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's also up 5.8 percent from the second quarter of 2013.

That jump is the fourth highest among 335 metro areas and the biggest among the 10 major Washington metro areas.

Whatcom County now ranks eighth highest among the Washington metro areas, ahead of Spokane County, which has a weekly wage of $796, and Yakima, $638.

King County had the highest weekly wage in the state, at $1,376.

Hart Hodges, director at Western Washington University's Center for Economic and Business Research, said he's concerned about making too much of these early numbers because of the possibility of a sampling error. These numbers are sometimes later revised as additional information is collected by other agencies.

If there is a significant increase to the average wage, he said it could be due to higher wages across lots of jobs, or an increase in certain types of jobs.

The Washington State Employment Security Department recently revised the number of people employed in construction locally, indicating a year-over-year increase of 700 people at the end of the third quarter. Construction tends to pay higher wages than a variety of other industries.

Across the U.S., the average weekly wage for the third quarter was $922, up 1.9 percent compared to a year earlier. San Mateo, Calif. had the largest year-over-year increase, at 9.9 percent. Pinellas, Fla. had the largest decrease, dropping 4.3 percent.

Reach Business Editor Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Business Blog at bellinghamherald.com/business-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhamheraldbiz.

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