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New unemployment tax requirement: Learn more

May 31, 2022

The Employment Security Department (ESD) invites businesses to learn more about a new unemployment tax requirement going into effect in Q4.  The law requires employers to report the “standard occupational classification” or SOC code for all employees on their quarterly unemployment tax reports. ESD warns businesses could face penalties for incorrect or incomplete reporting.

Join one of their upcoming webinars to learn more or watch a recording on-demand. ESD will also answer any questions you might have via email at

What is a SOC code? 

The federal government developed SOC codes to help government agencies and private businesses compare occupational data.  A variety of entities use this data, including:

  • Government program managers
  • Industry and labor relations specialists
  • Students considering career training
  • Job seekers
  • Vocational training schools
  • Employers wishing to set salaries or locate a new business

Where do I find the SOC code?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a list of SOC codes within 23 major groups, including Construction and Extraction Occupations. This group includes jobs ranging from first-line supervisors to carpenters to roofers.  You also use the occupation keyword search on O*NET online.

Why do we have this new unemployment tax requirement?

The Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board (Workforce Board) works with ESD on workforce development and training needs. The 2018 Legislature created the Future of Work Task Force to explore issues ranging from automation and the “gig economy” and the effect on workers.  The Workforce Board brought the recommendation to the 2019 Legislature as one of its Future of Work Task Force Policy Recommendations

In legislative testimony, the Workforce Board said the new requirement would help them better track whether students find jobs in the fields they were trained for. They also said it would help students and other workers make better decisions about the training and education they need.




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