Washington Roundtable releases update to “Benchmarks for a Better Washington”

The Washington Roundtable set a clear goal in 2011 when it first published Benchmarks for a Better Washington: Make Washington a top 10 state for quality of life and innovation while ensuring it is not one of the 10 most expensive states in which to do business.

Thirteen measures are used to track performance. In the latest update, Washington cracks the top 10 on just four measures. The state is in the middle on four others. And falls into the bottom 10 on the remaining five.

Our state’s top rankings are in electricity rates (No. 2), private sector job growth (No.  3), patent generation (No. 5), and student achievement in math (No. 7). Check out all the data here

In critical areas, the Roundtable reports:

Quality Education

  • Washington continues to score in the top 10 based on the performance of 8th graders on the nation’s math test and in the top 20 in science.

  • The high school graduation rate has risen in recent years, however, Washington’s ranking has fallen as other states make faster improvements. The state now ranks among the bottom 10 based on graduation rates in 2014-15.

  • Washington’s ranking in bachelor’s degrees awarded per capita has eroded, falling from 39th to 42nd.

Efficient Transportation

  • Road conditions have improved, with more than half of state highways rated in good condition or better.

  • Bridge conditions have worsened slightly, with more than a quarter of bridges rates as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

  • The average statewide commute time continues to inch higher as Washington moves closer to ranking among the 10 states with the longest average commute.

Innovation and Business Climate

  • Washington is a leader in private sector job creation and patent generation, ranking among the nation’s top 5 states in both categories.

  • Washington ranks among the 10 most expensive states based the business tax burden as a percentage of private sector gross state product.

  • Washington’s UI trust fund is among the most robust in the nation and the average UI tax rate per employee has come down in recent years. However, our state still ranks among the nation’s 10 most expensive.

The latest update provides timely, useful information for tracking our state’s performance against the rest of the nation. We have room to improve.