Despite the powerhouse economy of the Seattle area, Washington overall ranks in the middle of the states by several measures of social health and the ability of people to get ahead.
Since 2011, Opportunity Nation, an alliance of business and nonprofit organizations, and the Social Science Research Council’s Measure of America have produced indexes on 16 measures of social, educational and economic well-being for the nation and the states. In the latest report, Washington rated an opportunity score of 55.5, above the national 54.0. The scale runs from zero to 100.
Washington ranked 24th among the states. The best scores were found in New England: Vermont, 65.8; Massachusetts, 63.1; New Hampshire, 62.9, and Connecticut, 62.8. At the bottom was Arizona, 47.1, Louisiana, 45.8, and Mississippi, 48.5. Elsewhere in the Northwest, Alaska was 51.9; Idaho, 50.8, and Oregon, 52.3.
The national numbers stopped growing this year after five years of improvement. In 2011, the opportunity score was 49.6.
In Washington the economy (57.4) and community (59.1) scores were above the national average. The same didn’t hold for education, where Washington posted 49.9 vs. a national 52.9. On the economy, the state overall still suffered higher than average unemployment, but turned in lower poverty and inequality, as well as much stronger median household income. Larger numbers of people with a college education couldn’t offset the drag of the percentage of children in preschool and on-time graduation of high-school freshmen.
On the other hand, all of Washington’s 2016 scores were an improvement over 2011.
You can check out the interactive map and charts here.