The Summer 2016 Opportunity Washington Scorecard shows the state making modest improvement, rising to No. 27 from No. 28 in the Winter update. Follow the link for the infographic, with information on how the score is calculated, data sources, and the 50-state rankings. Briefly,
To develop the Scorecard, we examine 16 variables across the three categories. The dials are set so the score of the 10th best state is 100, and the median is 75. From there, the analysis produces a weighted average or “Opportunity Score” for each state. Achieve and Employ data each make up 40 percent of the Opportunity Score; Connect makes up 20 percent. Changes in the rankings are dynamic. Even with improved performance, Washington can fall behind if other states demonstrate more rapid progress. Our goal is to make Washington a top 10 state overall and in each category.
The just-released scorecard shows Washington ranking No. 21 in Achieve, No. 38 in Connect, and No. 26 in Employ. In short, the state is far from a top 10 state in these key measures of opportunity.
From the infographic, here are short takes on each of the priority categories.
Washington’s Performance: Our state again comes in 21st, although with a slightly lower Achieve score as compared to Winter 2016. In 2014, the state’s postsecondary institutions produced fewer associate’s, bachelor’s and advanced degrees per capita than the previous year. One bright spot: Production of STEM bachelor’s degrees per capita was up year-over-year.
Washington’s Performance: Our state remains 38th in Connect, coming in well below the median on the combined transportation and infrastructure measures. According to new data on bridge conditions, Washington is holding steady with 25.8 percent of bridges rated as functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. However, conditions have worsened in other states, giving Washington a bump up in the Connect score.
Washington’s Performance: Washington ranks 26th with an Employ score of 75. Our state continues to be a leader in private sector R&D spending at $2,131 per capita. However, Washington continues to impose high unemployment insurance costs, and businesses carry a comparatively high tax burden.
With the Scorecard, we measure what matters, updating regularly to reflect new information that lets policymakers benchmark Washington against the nation. As we wrote in our foundation report:
Competition never stands still.
Washington has many advantages: a strong economy, a culture of innovation, and a record of making the investments necessary to build human capital and physical infrastructure. Yet, as the Scorecard shows, the state’s performance remains stuck in the middle.
Washington can–and, we believe, will–do better. Measuring performance remains one of the best ways to improve performance. Watch for our next update this winter.