2020 General Wage Increase and looking ahead to 2021-22

A message from Dwight Dively, Director, Office of Performance, Strategy and Budget, and Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer

Rumors have been circulating that the July 1 1.5% general wage increase may not occur. This is not true: the increase has already been decided by leadership and bargained, and is part of the compensation awarded for 2020.

It is important to recognize that the County’s ability to provide wage increases in 2021 and 2022 is much less than it was only three months ago. The COVID-19 shutdown and the ensuing recession have already dramatically affected County revenues, especially sales taxes and other economically sensitive revenues. Agencies that will be particularly affected include Metro Transit, the Permitting Division of the Department of Local Services, agencies supported by the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) Fund, and agencies supported by the General Fund, including all agencies involved in the justice system.

To indicate the depth of the problem, the International Monetary Fund released a new forecast last week that predicts this recession will be the largest since the Great Depression. It suggests the U.S. economy will contract by 5.9% in 2020 versus 4.2% in the Great Recession.

Unlike other employers, King County is not looking to undo the general wage increase already agreed upon for 2020. However, we want to make sure all employees and bargaining representatives understand the dire financial reality facing County government for 2020, 2021, and 2022. Please stay tuned for further discussions about what this means for County operations. For represented employees, the Office of Labor Relations will be reaching out to your bargaining agents.

We understand these are challenging times for all County employees. We appreciate your dedication and hard work under extremely difficult and unexpected circumstances.

Thank you.

Dwight Dively, Directory, Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget

Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer