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Washington 6th, Idaho 12th in U.S. News ‘best states’ ranking

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 27, 2018

A Washington state ferry passes in front of Mount Rainier near Seattle on Oct. 6, 2014. (Associated Press)
A Washington state ferry passes in front of Mount Rainier near Seattle on Oct. 6, 2014. (Associated Press)

Washington is ranked No. 6 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 list of best states, scoring well in categories such as access to health care, quality of education and the strength of the economy.

Idaho ranked 12th on the list, which was released Tuesday morning. The Gem State earned strong scores for economic performance, public safety and the government’s fiscal stability.

This is the second year that U.S. News & World Report has released the rankings, which measure states on eight broad categories. Nationally, the top-ranked states were: Iowa, No. 1; Minnesota, No. 2; Utah, No. 3; New Hampshire, No. 4; and North Dakota, No. 5.

In a news release, U.S. News & World Report said the rankings are an effort to “inform citizens, business leaders and policy makers about what’s working and what needs improvement.” Editors at the magazine said they focused on issues that could be improved through public policy.

U.S. News & World Report tweaked the categories this year in response to feedback from last year’s rankings. In 2017, Washington ranked fifth and Idaho 32nd.

Access to health care and quality of education are the most highly weighted categories, which helped Washington’s score but led to lower Idaho scores.

Forty-four percent of Washington’s adult population has a college degree, the survey noted. In Idaho, 36 percent of residents are college-educated, and the state has a higher proportion of residents than Washington without health insurance.

Washington also scored well in infrastructure, which measures the condition of the state’s bridges, public transportation, power grid and access to broadband internet service. The state had a midrange score for the “opportunity” category tracking poverty rates, affordable housing and opportunities for women, minorities and people with disabilities.

Washington’s lowest score was in crime and corrections, which includes the rates of violent crime, property crimes, incarceration and overcrowding in prisons.

Idaho, meanwhile, got its best score for the crime and corrections category. It scored 30th among states for education and ranked 42nd for the category measuring poverty rates, affordable housing and opportunities for women, minorities and people with disabilities.

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