WRA Joins Forces With Employment Security
by Renée Sunde, President/CEO
Over the past months, WRA has joined forces with our partners at Washington State Employment Security along with our workforce partners around the state to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing retail’s ever changing workforce.
As fall approaches and kids prepare for back to school, September will once again be declared Careers in Retail Month. From buying and merchandising to human resource to marketing and e-commerce, we know that retail offers a variety of possible career paths. These paths often allow an individual who has minimal work experience to start at the bottom and work their way up.
In Washington we recognize the significant impact the retail industry has on our economy. Currently 1 in every 4 jobs is supported by the retail industry and approximately 400,000 Washingtonians currently work in the industry.
Washington state’s average wage neared $61,900 in 2017 setting a 10-year record of 5 percent year over-year-growth. Retail spending was the leading contributor to the increase according to Paul Turek, a Washington state economist with the Employment Security Department.
According to Turek’s report, tech wages are rising and with that, workers have more to spend. That is driving retailers and restaurateurs to raise wages and add jobs.
The retail sector added more than any other sector between May 2017 and May 2018 and had the largest increase in average wages. Wages continue to get higher as workers are getting harder to find.
Finding good retail talent and keeping it, is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. WRA along with our ESD and workforce partners will be highlighting career pathways and job opportunities through the Work Source Washington micro site. Look for more information in the coming months regarding upcoming events promoting retail career and training opportunities.
Tax Structure Work Group To Meet
By Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
The Washington State House of Representatives Tax Structure Study Group is scheduled to begin meeting this week to facilitate discussions about the current tax structure, with a focus on the business and occupation tax, and identify any options to improve the overall tax structure.
There will be three meetings; one each in Spokane, Yakima and Vancouver. The work group is headed up by Representatives Terry Nealey Dayton (R) and Noel Frame (D) Seattle.
- Thursday, July 19, 9am-12pm, Spokane (Historic Davenport Hotel, 10 S. Post Street)
- Friday, July 20, 1-4pm, Yakima (Howard Johnson Hotel, 9 North 9th Street)
- Monday, July 23, 1-4pm, Vancouver (Warehouse 23, 100 Columbia St #102)
Each meeting will include a brief presentation by staff on the tax structure, followed by a small group discussion and report out, and then public testimony. This is intended to be an open discussion on the entire tax structure and it is, of course, open to any member of the public. Given the particular focus on the business & occupation (B&O) tax, they would like to hear directly from businesses (and especially small businesses) about possible alternatives if participants do not like the current mechanism (which taxes gross receipts).
More information about the Tax Structure Work Group can be found here: http://leg.wa.gov/JointCommittees/TSWG/Pages/default.aspx
If you plan to attend, please register at one of the links below:
WRA podcast reports on tourism and jobs
This week’s Ear on Retail podcast covers more retail-related issues happening around the state.
Among the items this week are reports on where to find retail-related jobs listed online and King County’s burgeoning winemaking industry that is boosting tourism to the county.
Washington Retail Association uploads these podcasts periodically to keep listeners up to date on developments affecting retailers and their employees. Click here to listen to the latest installment.
Seattle leaders question City Council’s priorities
As Seattle business leaders reflect on the recent passage and repeal of a payroll tax on companies, they’ve been struck at how the City Council seems out of touch with the community, reports a recent article in the online news source, The Lens.
The piece quotes officials connected to the Port of Seattle who commented on their perception that the council answers to too narrow a segment of the city’s activist community without weighing the business impacts of decisions. The officials speculate that the council reversed itself on the tax it meant to address homelessness because members feared voters would repeal it in the fall elections.
The repealed tax would have charged companies a per-employee fee so that larger companies would pay more but the impacts of the tax would have been widespread on businesses throughout Seattle. Click here to read the article.
A reminder about new rules regarding lead
Labor & Industries is studying whether to adopt new rules by the end of the year for working with lead.
Among the considerations are batteries, ammunition, brass that contains lead, fishing gear, industrial paints, self-lubricating bearings, hardware stores, radiator repair and other related work situations.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, reports employers working with bulk lead products containing 20 percent or more of lead by volume would need to provide protective equipment such as nitrile gloves, hand-washing stations and respirators as needed. Fishing gear departments that handle unwrapped sinkers, for example, could experience lead absorption into the skin.
This document reviews significant proposed changes to existing rules for working around lead. Rick asks that you inform him if you work with lead so that he might keep you posted on the status of rule changes. Reach Rick at 360-200-6454 or email@example.com.
Safety tip of the week
Gloves are effective protective equipment
Human hands are unique and one of your greatest assets. Can you imagine not being able to work with your hands? Hand injuries can vary from minor cuts or irritation to amputation. Your hands are your personal tools and most of us take them for granted – until you have a serious injury or develop chronic skin problems.
Gloves that you are most familiar with are leather work gloves or insulated gloves for cold weather, because we all use them at home. On the job, there can be additional hazards and gloves available to protect you from those specific hazards, which could be chemical, electrical, food service, healthcare related and more.
A good video about hand care can be found on RASI SAFETY TV.
Here is a link to a good PowerPoint that can be used for your next safety meeting.
Protect your hands with the proper glove for the task that you are trying to accomplish and preserve one of your most valuable assets.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WRA diversity statement
It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people; creates a diverse workforce; fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued; partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities; and communicates these values with others.
In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level. The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.