Workforce Data and Trends Overview

The Washington state workforce information reported in this section focuses on state employees in the general government portion of the executive branch. This includes all permanent and nonpermanent employees in state agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor and other executive elected officials.

This does not cover employees in higher education, the legislative and judicial branches 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 to be state employees.

Excluding higher education and commodities commissions, the executive branch composes about 98 percent of the workforce. The legislative branch and judicial branch represent the remaining 2 percent.

The primary source of the information is the enterprise Human Resource Management System (HRMS).

Key Events affecting the Workforce in fiscal year 2017

Executive Orders:

  • 16-04 Reaffirming the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women
  • 16-05 Building Safe and Strong Communities through Successful Reentry
  • 16-07 Building a Modern Work Environment
  • 17-01 Reaffirming Washington’s Commitment to Tolerance, Diversity and Inclusiveness

Legislative Impacts:

  • Negotiated and legislatively approved general wage increase of 2 percent for most state employees effective July 1, 2017.
  • SHB 1521 State Employee Vacation Leave effective July 1, 2017.
    • Removes the requirement that an employee must work six months before using accrued vacation leave.
    • Increased Vacation Leave Accrual
    • Firefighting - Rest and Recuperation Leave
  • ESSHB 1802 Creates Veterans’ In-State Service Shared Leave Pool. Allows certain state employees to access shared leave for attending medical appointments or treatments for service-connected disabilities. Creates the Veterans' In-State Service Shared Leave Pool (VISSLP) that will be administered by Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Effective July 23, 2017.
  • SSB 5975 Paid Family and Medical Leave.  The Employment Security Department will establish and administer the Family and Medical Leave Program and pay family and medical leave benefits.
  • SB 5374 Concerning the State Employee Whistleblower Protection. Effective 7/23/17. Revises the definition of "improper governmental action," for purposes of state employee whistleblower protection.
  • ORCA card for all benefit eligible employees with duty stations in King County. Tentative implementation date September 18, 2017. Provides for transit passes for state employees outside of higher education who work in King County, and who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement or are represented by the WFSE.
  • Initiative 1433 Minimum wage - On November 8, 2016, Washington voters passed Initiative 1433. The initiative raised the minimum wage beginning January 1, 2017. It also requires all employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees starting January 1, 2018.
  • HB 1661 Creating the Dept. of Children, Youth, and families. Effective date 10/19/17 and other various dates. Creates new agency by merging Department of Early Learning and children/family, juvenile sections from Department of Social and Health Services to new agency.
  • SB 5969 Concerning Public Employee Collective Bargaining. Effective 10/19/17. Requires the Office of Financial Management to maintain a web site that is accessible to the public of all agreements collectively bargained with state employees to facilitate public inspection of state collective bargaining agreements.
  • SB 5849 Veterans’ Services, Recruitment Program, Peer-to-Peer Support. Effective 7/23/17. Requires the Office of Financial Management to research public and private programs that may be used in Washington, give experience credit for similar military and state jobs, and address barrier to employment. Recommendations are due to the legislature by January 1, 2018.


  • Enterprise Information Technology (IT) Classification Study completed and recommendations approved for implementation.
  • Choice Performance Confirmation Pilot launched to recognize agencies that embrace best practices for fostering a culture of performance management and employee engagement.
  • LGBTQ Inclusion and Safe Places Initiative (Directive 16-11) implementation begun with the formation of an Employee Resource Group and planning to develop best practices and a safe places program.
  • Employer of Choice improvement target for 2013-2016 was met. A new target was set to continue to increase Washington as an Employer of Choice from 65 percent to 67 percent by January 2020.
  • Modern Work Strategies. Telework and flexible work hours data added to the state’s Human Resource Management System. Workspace guidelines issued. Training for supervisors developed and launched.

Last Updated: 9/12/2017
Time Period: N/A
Update Frequency: annually (end of fiscal year)