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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

October 26, 2012 at 6:00 AM

For Halloween, Washington’s spookiest statistics

Lake View Cemetery, Seattle (photo by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons)

Halloween’s just around the corner, so in that spirit, here are some of the state’s spookiest statistics…

Washington is home to 101 cemeteries and crematoriums with paid employees, according to the U.S. Economic Census, and 664 people work in this field statewide.

Does the “death care” industry sound appealing to you?  If so, consider a career in embalming. The average embalmer in Washington earns $42,244, according to the state’s Employment Security Department. Could you call that a living wage? Regardless, it’s not easy work to get; the state says the job market for embalmers in Washington is, uh, grim.

The employment outlook for embalmers would surely improve if so many of us weren’t choosing cremation.  In fact, Washington is the No. 2 state for cremations, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.  We cremated 71 percent of our dead here in 2010; the national average is only 41 percent.  Nevada tops the rankings (73 percent) while Mississippi is on the other end of the cremation spectrum (14 percent).

While we’re on the subject of death….

What is Washington’s deadliest county?  According to the most recent statistics from the state Department of Health, it’s a tie.  Grays Harbor and Pend Oreille counties have the highest age-adjusted mortality rates in the state — 8.4  deaths per 1,000 population.  That’s exactly double San Juan County’s rate, which is Washington’s lowest.

Be extra careful here: the highest rates of accidental death from both drownings and fires are in Yakima County.  For all other kinds of fatal mishaps, though, nowhere in Washington can hold a candle to accident-prone Pend Oreille County, with a ghastly rate of 52.5 accidental deaths per 1,000 people in 2010.

Statewide, the grim reaper comes calling most often in the form of “malignant neoplasms” (or cancer) — it’s the leading cause of death in Washington.  Malignant neoplasms overtook diseases of the heart for the No. 1 spot in 2004, and have never looked back since.

Speaking of disease…Halloween candy is fun, of course, but keep in mind that diabetes is now our seventh leading cause of death in Washington.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, 7.4 percent of Washington adults had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, up from 3.6 percent in 1994.  So go easy on the candy corn — after all, you wouldn’t want to become just another statistic.

0 Comments | More in Public Records | Topics: Halloween, vital statistics

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