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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 2, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Benchmarking Washington

The Washington Roundtable, a business group whose board members represent some of the region’s top companies, has released a new report measuring us against other states in several key areas. Benchmarking is important — you don’t know where you stand against the competition without context.

We’re No. 1 in electricity rates thanks to abundant hydropower (thanks, federal investments going back to the New Deal), 5th in patents granted, 6th in student achievement in math and 13th in private-sector job growth (as long as August was a fluke). The business tax “burden” is 33rd, hardly a socialist hellhole.

Beyond that, one starts to wonder if we’re as lucky as we are smart in enjoying our strong economic position compared with other states. Washington is:

  • 38th in bachelor’s degrees awarded per capita.
  • 32nd in high-school graduation rate.
  • 38th in average commuting time.
  • 36th in road conditions (and getting worse).
  • 41st in bridge conditions.
  • 44th in unemployment taxes.
  • 50th in workers compensation expense.

One can pick nits. Relatively high unemployment taxes insured a solvent fund during the Great Recession and helped ease the suffering of thousands of laid-off workers. Maryland and Massachusetts are two high-quality, urbanized states where the business share of local and state taxes is relatively low, but they have a raft of other taxes, including an income tax, that would be resisted by Washingtonians, not least the CEO class. Benchmarking social-economy measures such as percentage of workers in low-wage jobs, inequality and wage increases would be interesting, too.

In any event, check the report out here. It has links to the data that are useful, too.


Thursday Reading: The difference between rich and really rich, in one chart | Bloomberg


Today’s Econ Haiku:

When October goes

That month of stock market fall

Leaves for November


 

 

 

 

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