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Workforce data and trends overview

The Washington state workforce data and trends overview includes all permanent and nonpermanent employees in state agencies under the jurisdiction of the governor and other executive elected officials.

It does not, however, cover employees in higher education and certain others, such as emergency firefighters, Youth Conservation Corps members and those who are paid by the state’s payroll system but are not considered state employees.

Some information focuses on the executive branch, which composes about 98.1 percent of the workforce, excluding higher education and commodities commissions. The legislative branch and judicial branch represent the remaining 1.9 percent. Staffing trends for state government including higher education and commodities commissions can be found on

The primary source of the information is the enterprise Human Resource Management System, or HRMS.

Key events affecting the workforce in fiscal year 2023


  • Governor’s Directive 22-13 COVID-19 Vaccination Standards for State Employees.
    • Rescinded: Effective May 11, 2023. Executive cabinet and small cabinet state agencies will no longer require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.   


  • ESHB 1187 Privileged Communication - Creates a privilege from examination and disclosure for a union representative and a union employee concerning any communication between the union representative or union employee made during union representation.
  • 2SHB 122 Washington Management Service Collective Bargaining - Grants Washington Management Service (WMS) employees the right to collective bargaining, except for WMS employees in positions with salary bands three, four, and medical, and other specified WMS managers. Provides that bargaining over wages is limited to salary band levels. Provides that collective bargaining agreements with WMS employees may not take effect before July 1, 2025.
  • ESHB 1369 Fish and Wildlife Officers - Allows for private law enforcement off-duty employment for private benefit. The Bill contains a provision that ensures the state is not liable for tortious conduct by department of fish and wildlife officers that occurs while such officers are engaged in private law enforcement off-duty employment. 
  • ESHB 1361 State Employment – Requires that state employees appointed on or after July 1, 2023, be paid only through electronic transfers of funds.  Suspends the right of civil service exempt employees to revert to a classified position if the employee has been notified in writing that they are the subject of a specified workplace investigation.
  • HB 1262 Lump Sum Reporting - A program for withholding and collection of lump sum payments from employers for child support arrears.
  • ESHB 1533 PRA/Employee Information - This bill amends the Public Records Act to exempt the disclosure of certain information of agency employees or their dependents who provided a sworn statement to the employing agency indicating that they are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or harassment. Any documentation maintained by the employing agency is exempt from disclosure under this chapter. 
  • E2SSB 5236 Hospital Staffing Standards - This Act improves nurse and health care worker safety and patient care by establishing minimum nurse-to-patient staffing standards, expanding break and overtime for certain health care workers. Requires hospital staffing committees (new and existing), which are comprised of at least 50% patient care staff, to create staffing plans by September 1, 2024. Staffing plans are subject to enforcement as well as penalties for violations.
  • SB  5550 Ferry Workforce Development - Due to ongoing staffing challenges Washington State Ferry system (WSF) shall adopt a formal strategy to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion directives to address issues including, but not limited to, recruitment, employee development and retention. WSF shall seek methods to improve workforce development and career advancement for all employees with a focus on vessel engine room and deck, terminal, and Eagle Harbor maintenance facility tradespeople. Additionally, WSF shall conduct an employee survey of employees' feedback on workplace conditions.
  • SHB 1056 Postretirement Employment - Changes the postretirement employment restrictions on benefits eligibility for Public Employees' Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, and School Employees Retirement System Plans 2 and 3 members that retired under the 2008 Early Retirement Factors (ERFs).


  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) A federal program that forgives the remaining balance on Direct loans for individuals after they have made 120 qualifying monthly payments (approximately 10 years) under a qualifying repayment plan while working full time for an eligible public employer, such as a state agency or public higher education institution.  In March 2022, in response to the student loan debt crisis facing the country, the state Legislature passed legislation to raise awareness and remove barriers for public service employees to access the PSLF program. OFM State HR issued guidance on April 27, 2023 providing information about the PSLF employment certification process and alerting agencies that they must begin notifying their employees about the PSLF program. 
  • Employee DEI training and development - On Feb. 1, 2023, we issued State HR Directive 23-01, which requires foundational diversity, equity and inclusion training for all employees of executive branch agencies. In 2022, Gov. Inslee issued Executive Order 22-02, “Achieving Equity in Washington State Government,” which also calls on OFM State HR to issue a directive requiring all executive cabinet agency employees to complete DEI training developed by DES.  As a result of the governor’s direction, a statewide DEI Training Committee developed recommendations for foundational DEI training for the state workforce. The executive sponsors of this work – DES, OFM, and the Office of Equity worked collaboratively to include these recommendations in the enterprise course.  
  • Equal Pay Opportunities Act (EPOA) Pay Transparency (RCW 49.58.110) - Effective 1/1/2023 – The law requires that employers must disclose the wage scale or salary range and the general description of all the benefits and other compensation to be included in each posting for a job opening.  This is just the newest state law in recent years in support of equal pay and wage transparency.  While state employment announcements have historically listed salary range and benefit information as a business standard, it is now a requirement.


Last Updated: 07/27/2023
Time Period: N/A
Update Frequency: annually (end of fiscal year)

Last updated
Thursday, July 27, 2023
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