DCBS releases national study on workers’ compensation costs

(Salem) – Oregon’s workers’ compensation rates remain among the lowest in the nation as shown by the 2020 edition of the Oregon workers’ compensation rate ranking study. This reflects the state’s success in making workplaces safer and keeping costs under control.

The biennial study, released today by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on premium rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Oregon had the seventh least expensive rates in 2020, a slight drop from its ranking in a tie for the sixth least expensive state in 2018, the last time the study was done. Oregon workers’ compensation rates are declining further – an average of 5.6 percent – in 2021, marking eight straight years of declining premiums. In fact, average rates have fallen 48 percent during the 2013 to 2021 time period. Workers’ compensation pays injured workers for lost wages and medical care for job-related injuries.

“Oregon continues to demonstrate that it’s possible to maintain low employer costs while providing strong benefits,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “We must remain committed to working together to balance worker health, safety, and benefits with employer rates, and to help workers who are injured heal and return to work quickly.”

The study shows New Jersey had the most expensive rates, followed by New York. Meanwhile, the least expensive rates are those of North Dakota. In the west, California’s rates were the fourth most expensive, while Washington’s rates were the 22nd most expensive and Idaho was the 19th most expensive.

Oregon researchers also compared each state’s rates to the national median (that of the 26th ranked state) rate of $1.44 per $100 of payroll. Oregon’s rate of $1.00 is 69 percent of the median.

In order to have a valid comparison between states that have various mixes of industries, the study calculates rates for each state using the same mix of the 50 industries with the highest workers’ compensation claims costs in Oregon.

A summary of the study was posted today; the full report will be published later this year.

Oregon has conducted these studies in even-numbered years since 1986, when Oregon’s rates were among the highest in the nation. The department reports the results to the Oregon Legislature as a performance measure. Oregon’s relatively low rate today underscores the state’s workers’ compensation system reforms and its focus on workplace safety and health. 

Oregon has long taken a comprehensive approach to making workplaces safer, keeping business costs low, and providing strong worker benefits. This approach includes enforcing requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner and minimize the effect on their wages.

“Through collaboration and hard work, Oregon continues to prove we know how to keep workplaces safe and costs down,” said Andrew Stolfi, DCBS director. “DCBS will keep doing its best to hold costs down for businesses and ensure workers are kept safe and receive the benefits they are due.”

Here are some key links for the study and workers’ compensation costs:
• To read a summary of the study, go to https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/Documents/general/prem-sum/20-2082.pdf.
• Prior years’ summaries and full reports with details of study methods can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/protection/Pages/general-wc-system.aspx  
• Information on workers’ compensation costs in Oregon, including a map with these state rate rankings, is at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/cost/Pages/index.aspx

Learn about Oregon’s return-to-work programs, workers’ compensation insurance requirements, and more at https://wcd.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx

Request a no-cost workplace safety or health consultation, and learn about workplace safety and health requirements and resources at https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx