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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington 4th, Oregon 8th In Battle For Economic Climate Supremacy

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Which state fared better in a ranking of state economic climates -- Washington or Oregon?

Washington’s economic climate is the fourth best in the nation. That’s according to a new report by produced by Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

The annual Washington State Economic Climate Study looks at a bunch of indicators and compares Washington to other states. This year the Evergreen state bumped up a notch from fifth best to fourth best.

So what’s driving this? Things like foreign exports, the number of patents issued per 100,000 residents and low electricity costs. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

The report compares Washington to other states based on a series of benchmarks in four categories: innovation drivers, business performance, economic growth and quality of life. And Washington ranks quite low on some of them such as high property crime, high housing costs and lots of miles of interstate highways in poor condition.

Oregon ranks eighth in this report. But it outranks Washington on air quality, worker’s compensation premiums and spending by the state on the arts.

This year, drinking water was Washington’s worst performing quality of life indicator, dropping from 23rd to 42nd best. That’s based on the number of drinking water systems that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act and the total number of people served by those systems. In 2014, Washington had the third best ranked drinking water in the country. ?

The number one state in this study is Massachusetts. Mississippi comes it 50th. Washington has ranked as low as 22nd best on the annual scorecard, back in 2002, and even held the number one spot in 2008.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."