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November 26, 1997

L&I cuts 1998 workers' compensation rates by $50 million

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries today announced that 1998 rates for workers' compensation coverage will be cut by $50 million.

That means Washington employers and their workers will be able to put $50 million more into their pockets because of approval of a 5 percent cut in workers' compensation rates for 1998, L&I Director Gary Moore said today.

"This decision adds to the continuing good news for Washington's economy," Moore said. "This rate cut will benefit employers and workers."

The new rates take effect Jan. 1, 1998.

The department held two public hearings in November on the proposed rate reduction.

The proposal marks the fourth straight year of no general rate increases. L&I did not raise general rates for 1997 and temporarily cut rates by $300 million in 1996 because of a prudent investment strategy, low medical inflation and a decline in claims. Washington ranks ninth-lowest in the nation for workers' compensation costs, according to a 1996 study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

The proposed 5 percent reduction is an average. Some employers may see larger decreases and others increases depending on individual claims and accident history.

The workers' compensation system in Washington covers 157,000 employers and 1.3 million workers. The system pays for lost wages, medical bills and pensions when employees are injured on the job.

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