For two years running, Washington has made national headlines for ranking as the Best State in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Strong technology, manufacturing, and energy sectors, combined with high scores for health care, education, and opportunity, propel us to the top of the list. It is exciting many people recognize our state for what Washingtonians already know — our beautiful corner of the Pacific Northwest is indeed unique for all it has to offer.
While there is much to be celebrated, data about our most precious resource — the individuals, children, families, and communities that call Washington state home — paint a more nuanced picture.
In 2019, 1.75 million Washingtonians — over 500,000 of them children — lived in a household that struggles to make ends meet; enough to fill 25 stadiums the size of Lumen Field.
Recent data show that the current economic downturn will only deepen these trends, possibly pushing poverty and inequality to their highest rates in 50 years.
For at least one in four of our neighbors — likely many more due to the economic consequences of COVID-19 —the foundation needed to support them reaching their full potential is cracked, making it challenging to build for the future.
Many more live on a financial fault line, with few resources to weather the life storms that can affect all of us — a sudden illness, a major car repair, or getting laid off.
Before COVID-19 most were working, but finding it increasingly difficult to afford the basics in communities throughout the state.
A disproportionate share of these people are Indigenous, Black, and Brown — the legacy of a social and economic system built on our history of colonialism, racism, oppression, and exclusion.
Washington state cannot reach its full potential until our residents can. That is why Governor Inslee created a Poverty Reduction Work Group (PRWG) and tasked it with creating a comprehensive 10-year plan to reduce poverty and inequality in Washington state.
This 10-year Plan is the culmination of PRWG’s work over the last two years, and includes recommendations that agencies, legislators, businesses, community-based organizations, and funders can all work on together to ensure social and economic opportunity and well-being exists for all Washingtonians, and that it be passed on from this generation to the next ... and the next ... and the next.