Amid the tolls the pandemic has taken, there is a bright spot — Washington state has been ranked nationally as the best state for workers. In a recent survey by Oxfam America, the Evergreen State beat out the rest of the nation, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, when it came to wages, worker protections and workers’ rights.
With New Jersey at no. 2 and California at no. 3, Washington finds itself a national leader when it comes to worker protections related to COVID-19. This includes the state’s ability to protect workers on the frontlines of the pandemic, as well as ensuring workers have access to healthcare, given the limitations of employer-provided insurance.
Beyond that, Washington ranked no. 1 for its unemployment benefits. In our state, unemployment typically covers about 86% of the cost of living, while in Mississippi unemployment covers as little as 7% of the average cost of living.
Overall, Washington scored 76.41 out of a possible 100 — the highest in the nation. The areas in which the state scored particularly well include worker protections, which cover everything from underlying workplace protections such as paid sick leave and paid family leave to COVID protections like state-funded childcare for essential workers, to community-level protections such as mandated face masks in public and state-provided personal protective equipment.
This is not the first time Washington has topped the charts for workers. In 2018, the state was also ranked no. 1 by Oxfam, and hopefully it will continue to lead the nation in setting best practices for worker protection and care.