Washington state’s workers’ compensation advantage

February 16, 2011 | Economic Opportunity Institute

By David Groves | Washington State Labor Council

One of the most persistent myths about Washington state’s business climate is that our workers’ compensation costs are higher than in most other states. The fact that many employers and public policymakers believe this to be true is another indication of the power and resonance of the negative internal rhetoric about our competitiveness.

As with overall business-climate rankings, analyses from outside the state tell a very different story. In fact, the gap between the truth and the negative rhetoric about our workers’ compensation costs is shocking. Washington has lower employer costs than most other states. Meanwhile, our model state-run system is able to provide comparatively high benefits to injured workers.

That’s how the myth took hold that Washington is not competitive in this area. Business lobbying groups deliberately decry the level of benefits, not employers’ actual costs, in their quest to cut premiums even more.

The danger for Washington’s working families is that lawmakers could lose sight of the goal of our workers’ compensation system — “sure and certain relief for workers, injured in their work, and their families and dependents” — and shred this critical safety net in a misguided attempt to improve our business climate.

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