Submitted by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office.
Washington is the best state for workers, according to a ranking released by Oxfam America on Sept. 2. The organization based its findings on wages, worker protections and workers’ rights in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is not only a health crisis but an economic one. This has dramatically impacted everyone in our state, businesses and workers alike, particularly those most vulnerable. This crisis has shined a light on the importance of strong worker protections and the far-reaching impacts of income inequality. We must continue to do whatever we can to ensure that workers and families have what they need,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “In Washington, we believe you can recover a strong economy, without sacrificing the health and safety of workers.”
Washington consistently appears at the top of favorable rankings, especially those related to economic opportunity. Oxfam also ranked Washington the No. 1 state to work in 2018.
Oxfam, an organization that aims to end poverty, has produced an annual Best States to Work index since 2018.
Overall, the index examines how states are helping working families cope — and survive:
Worker Protections: Are states taking proactive measures to protect workers and their communities amidst a pandemic that involves a deadly airborne virus?
Healthcare: How are states protecting the health of their residents during a pandemic, especially given the limitations of employment-linked health insurance?
Unemployment Supports: How are states accommodating the millions of people who are suddenly, through no fault of their own, unemployed and without a steady income?
Each state/territory earns a score from 0–100 for each area, which are totaled to create the score. No state or territory scores above 80 overall. Washington scored 76.41, with its highest score in worker protections.
The report calls out Washington’s effort to protect workers with mandatory face coverings and personal protective equipment, as well as a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, relief from utility shutoffs, increased food assistance and a fund for undocumented workers.
Oxfam also gave Washington high marks for its paid family and medical leave program, which began paying benefits earlier this year and provides some of the most progressive benefits in the nation.
“The pandemic has revealed the harsh challenges low-wage working families face in the US,” said Minor Sinclair, Oxfam America Director of US Domestic Program. “Washington leads the way in providing most families a cushion from the fall by offering unemployment support, worker and healthcare protections. But the federal government and many other states in the country have failed to provide any support for working families who risk falling into poverty, hunger, and homelessness.”
“I recognize this work is not done. We continue to hear every day of challenges faced by workers as more return to their work places and job sites. I remain committed to doing this work until the crisis is over, and beyond,” Inslee said.
Read the full Oxfam report at https://assets.oxfamamerica.org/media/documents/BSWI_During_COVID_Report.pdf.