Washington again named “best state” by U.S. News & World Report. Congratulations.

Washington was ranked the nation’s “best state” by U.S. News and World Report for the second consecutive year. (We marked the previous recognition in this post.) Predictably and appropriately, the governor celebrated the achievement. Forty-nine other governors would have like to write,

“I am so happy for the people of Washington to take home this honor again. It takes all 7.6 million of us to make this state the dynamic place it truly is. Washingtonians are motivated to lead and innovate in all aspects of our society, in labor, business, education, health, and so much more,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “It was that same spirit that helped us bounce back from being the first state in the nation hit by COVID-19, and we are on our way to a robust recovery because of our unique attributes.”

Here’s a snapshot of the top five, showing the components of the index. (Full rankings here.)

There’s a lot to go through, and we may revisit this later. The Everett Herald Editorial board contrasted last year’s rankings with our Opportunity Scorecard. The editorial said,

Opportunity Washington knows a little about this game, having published its own similar rankings in recent years. The effort comes from a partnership of the Association of Washington Business, Washington Roundtable and Washington Research Council. While noting that such comparisons can be subjective, Opportunity Washington said it found U.S. News and World Report’s rankings well done and useful.

Useful, because like any report card, it offers a starting point to review what’s being done well and where improvement is needed.

In Opportunity Washington’s admittedly more critical and business-focused judgment, Washington ranked only 22nd in its scorecard from last spring. In its accounting, Utah, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia and Indiana were the top five states.


Because each ranking uses different criteria and sources of data, an apples-to-apples (of course) comparison of the two rankings wouldn’t be fair; each has its own purposes. But Opportunity Washington, because its interests are in this state and are focused on informing policy and programs here, takes this a little more seriously than a national media outlet.

Again, we take the U.S. News rankings seriously and find their methodology thorough and transparent, as well as unavoidably subjective. We’d add, on this year’s Opportunity Scorecard, Washington ranks No. 26.