Slow wage growth in Kitsap, Puget Sound area, says BLM

Note: The Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia reference includes Kitsap. — Rachel Pritchett

By Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total compensation costs for private industry workers increased 1.2 percent in the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia, Wash. metropolitan area for the year ended in September 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Richard J. Holden, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that one year ago, Seattle experienced an annual increase of 3.1 percent in total compensation costs. Locally, wages and salaries, the largest component of total compensation costs, advanced at a 1.7 percent pace for the 12-month period ended September 2011. Nationwide, total compensation costs rose 2.1 percent and wages and salaries, 1.7 percent over the same period.

Seattle is 1 of 15 metropolitan areas in the United States, and 1 of 4 areas in the West region of the country, for which locality compensation cost data are now available. The growth rate for total compensation in Seattle was the lowest compared to changes in the other large metropolitan areas from September 2010 to September 2011.

In the same period, wages and salaries in the Seattle area were in the upper tier of the selected areas. Among the 15 largest areas, over-the-year growth rates in the cost of total compensation ranged from 4.9 percent in Detroit to 1.2 percent in Seattle in September 2011; for wages and salaries, annual advances ranged from 2.5 percent in Minneapolis to 1.2 percent in Atlanta.

The annual increase in total compensation costs in Seattle was 1.2 percent in September 2011. This compared to a 2.9 percent gain in Phoenix, 2.5 percent in San Jose, and 1.9 percent in Los Angeles, the three other metropolitan areas in the West. Seattle’s 1.7-percent gain in wages and salaries over this 12-month period compared to 1.9 percent in Phoenix, 1.8 percent in San Jose, and 1.3 percent in Los Angeles.

Locality compensation costs are part of the national Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures quarterly changes in total compensation costs, which include wages, salaries and employer costs for employee benefits. In addition to the 15 locality estimates provided in this release, ECI data for the nation, 4 geographical regions, and 9 geographical divisions are available. (Geographical definitions for the metropolitan areas mentioned in this release are included in the Technical Note.)

In addition to the geographic data, a comprehensive national report is available that provides data by industry, occupational group, and union status, as well as for both private, and state and local government employees. The report on the Employment Cost Index and further technical information may be obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, West Regional Office by calling 415-625-2270. The report is also available on the Internet at Current and historical information from other Bureau programs may be accessed via our regional homepage at

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