SEATTLE, WA — Congrats, Washingtonians, our state has been ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report's third annual best states rankings.
Why? It's partially because of the big businesses located here, but according to (former Seattle P-I reporter) Levi Pulkkinen writing in U.S. News, it's because of our clean energy present, and future.
"Cheap, climate-friendly electricity drives Washington's economy, the nation's fastest growing, according to the U.S. News' Best States ranking of economic growth. The tech-heavy state's expectedly strong broadband network sits atop one of the nation's best electrical systems, one well-positioned as the country shifts away from coal- and natural gas-generated electricity. The state expects to be coal-free by 2025, while still charging rates among the nation's lowest," Pulkkinen wrote.
Gov. Jay Inslee, hoping to bring Washington's success to the rest of the nation as president, was "thrilled" by the news.
"We are thrilled that U.S. News & World Report has named Washington the No. 1 state in the country," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement shared by U.S. News. "This confirms what we, in Washington have always known, that our state is great for businesses, workers, and investments, coupled with natural beauty and innovative, creative people."
There were, of course, some areas where Washington didn't get high marks. The ranking points out that high school grads enter college at an underwhelming rate. There's also our "middling" transportation system, which has created some of the worst commute times in the nation. And relief is far off, with light rail linking Federal Way and Lynnwood to Seattle are still about six years away.
There's also the astronomical cost of house and its link to increased homelessness. A Zillow study found that every 5 percent increase in housing costs in Seattle, 258 people become homeless.
The 2019 King County homelessness survey, Count Us In, found that most people became homeless due to a housing crisis, like eviction or foreclosure.
"Prior to losing their housing, 70 percent of Count Us In Survey respondents reported living either in a home owned or rented by themselves or their partner, or with friends or relatives. Approximately 21 percent of survey respondents indicated that issues related to housing affordability were the primary conditions leading to their homelessness, including eviction (11 percent), inability to afford a rent increase (6 percent), family or friend could no longer afford to let them stay (2 percent), and foreclosure (2 percent)," the report said.
Falling behind Washington in the top five states ranking: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont.
To compile the rankings, U.S. News looked at 71 metrics under eight categories. The eight rankings were weighted based on the average of three years data from a national survey that asked respondents to prioritize each category in their state. Health care, education and economy received the top three weights in the methodology. After U.S. News calculated category scores and rankings, it compiled overall rankings by creating weighted averages of the individual category rankings.