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Oregon workers comp premium rates dropping again

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Workers compensation premiums in Oregon will decline for the third straight year in 2016, the state Department of Consumer and Business Services said Wednesday.

Driven by declining average medical costs and stable wage replacement costs, the average rate for workers comp coverage will drop 5.3% to $1.10 per $100 of payroll effective Jan. 1, following a 5.3% decrease in 2015 and a 7.6% fall in 2014, the department said in a statement. The decrease is based on a recommendation from Boca Raton, Florida-based National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc., the department said.

The contracting sector, primarily construction, will experience an average rate drop of 6.3%, while the office and clerical industry will see a 6.2% decline, although individual premiums will range from a 19% increase to a 31% decrease for both sectors.

Oregon's total average premium was roughly $897 million in 2014, according to the department.

SAIF Corp., the state's nonprofit workers compensation insurer, which announced an employer dividend of $120 million last week, insured about 50% of the state's overall market last year.

Private insurers covered about 36% of the market, while self-insured employers had a 14% market share in 2014, according to department data.