OLYMPIA, Wash. - The average worker in Washington state earned 5.3% more last year than in 2005. The state's new Census of Employment and Wages says wages in 2006 averaged $42,881 statewide, compared with $40,705 dollars in 2005. That outpaced last year's inflation rate, which was 3.7%, based on the Seattle-area consumer price index.

The report covers $2.8 million jobs that are covered by unemployment insurance. It does not include jobs that are not required to be covered by unemployment insurance, such as self-employed workers.

The highest-paying jobs were in information services, company and enterprise management, and utilities. The lowest-paying industries were accommodation and food services; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; and other services.

King, Snohomish and Benton counties had the highest wages, while Okanogan, Douglas and Pacific counties had the lowest.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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