Catalog of crises

The Affordability Crisis

Washington has the No. 3 highest gas prices in the nation.

Forbes: Today’s Gas Prices By State (May 2024)


Washington has the fourth-highest cost of groceries in the nation.

FOX 13: Washington 4th most expensive state to buy groceries: report (January 2024)


Washington has the fourth-highest sales tax rate in the country (state plus local).

Tax Foundation: State and Local Sales Tax Rates, Midyear 2023 (July 2023)


Washington is ranked No. 35 for business climate, down from No. 15 in 2022 prior to the capital gains tax.

Tax Foundation: 2024 State Business Tax Climate Index (October 2023)


Seattle has the ninth-highest cost of living in the country.

Axios: Seattle has 9th-highest cost of living in U.S., study finds (November 2023)

Learn More: 10 Years of Tax Increases
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The Public Safety Crisis

For the 13th straight year, Washington ranks dead last in police officers per capita.

WASPC: Crime In Washington 2022 Annual Report (March 2023)


Washington ranks No. 1 in the nation for retail theft.

Forbes: The Impact Of Retail Theft On Small Businesses And States (December 2023)


Washington ranks No. 2 in the nation for all property crime.

Statista: Property crime rate in the United States in 2022, by state (November 2023)


Washington ranks No. 4 in the nation for automobile thefts.

The Seattle Times: Why auto thefts, still high in WA, aren’t ‘just a property crime’ (May 2024)


Washington ranks No. 5 as the most dangerous state in America.

U.S. News: The 10 Most Dangerous States in America (May 2024)


Washington set a new record for violent crime in 2023, and homicide is up 96% since 2019.

WASPC report (July 2023), The Seattle Times: Back to normal? Not for WA when it comes to crime (December 2023)


61% of violent crimes in Washington go unsolved.

WA Criminal Justice Data Snapshot (December 2023)

Learn more: Crime in Washington
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The Housing & Homelessness Crisis

Washington remains the third most-expensive state in the country for purchasing a home.

The Bellingham Herald: Whatcom County home prices hit highest mark in years; WA remains third most expensive state (May 2024)


Washington ranks last of any state in the country in housing units per household.

Lt. Governor’s report: Redefining Economic Success in Washington State (February 2022)


Washington ranks fifth-highest in the U.S. for the hourly wage needed to afford a fair market two-bedroom rental without paying more than one-third of their income.

FOX 13: Here is the hourly wage needed to afford rent in Washington (May 2024)


Washington has the fourth-largest homeless population behind California, New York, and Florida.

U.S. News & World Report: States With the Largest Homeless Populations (May 2024)


Washington has the fourth-largest number of homeless veterans in the country.

Statista: Estimated number of homeless veterans in the United States in 2022, by state (June 2023)


Washington has the sixth-largest number of homeless students in the country.

Building Changes: Students Experiencing Homelessness in Washington’s K–12 Public Schools (November 2023)

Learn more: Washington’s Housing Crisis
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The Drugs Crisis

Washington had the No. 1 largest increase in drug overdose deaths of any state over the past year.

CDC: Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts (May 2024)


Since 2019, the amount of fentanyl seized in Washington by the federal DEA increased by 1670%.

U.S. DEA: Operation Engage: Top Local Drug Threat: Fentanyl (October 2023)


Opioid deaths in WA have more than doubled since 2019.

UW: Heroin and fentanyl in Washington state (April 2024)


First responders were called to 2,000 opioid overdoses per month in 2023.

DOH: Opioid and Drug Overdose Data (April 2024)


As the number of U.S. fatal overdoses fell in 2023, Washington saw a 27% increase.

AP: Fewer US overdose deaths were reported last year, but experts are still cautious (May 2024)


Fentanyl was detected in 46% of surface samples and 25% of air samples in buses and trains.

UW: UW assessment finds fentanyl and methamphetamine smoke linger on public transit vehicles (September 2023)


King County had over 1,000 fatal fentanyl overdoses in 2023, surpassing last year’s record by 47%.

The Seattle Times: King County’s 2023 fentanyl deaths top 1,050, surpassing record (December 2023)

Learn more: Bipartisan Drug Possession Reforms
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The Education Crisis

60% of Washington students are failing math and 50% are failing reading.

OSPI: Report Card (January 2024)


Washington ranks 48th in college enrollment after high school.

NCES: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (January 2024)


Washington’s public school system is ranked 25th in the nation.

WalletHub: States with the Best School Systems (July 2023)


Washington is ranked No. 31 for Pre-K education.

U.S. News & World Report: Rankings: Pre-K – Best States for Childhood Education (May 2024)

Learn more: K-12 Education in Washington
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The Child Care Crisis

63% of children under age five do not have access to a nearby child care provider, which reduces the state workforce by 133,000.

Dept. of Commerce: The true cost of quality child care in Washington (December 2022)


Washington ranks No. 9 for most expensive infant child care.

Economic Policy Institute: Child care costs in the United States (October 2020)


The average Washington family spends more than 35% of their income to send two children to child care.

Economic Policy Institute: Child care costs in the United States (October 2020)

View Child Care Solutions

Other Areas of Concern

Washington is the No. 1 worst state for potholes.

USA Today: Ranked: States with the worst pothole problems (February 2024)


60% of state roads need maintenance totaling 11,000 miles of backlog and costing $11 billion.

The Center Square: Washington DOT claims $11 billion backlog of infrastructure projects (October 2023)


The number of state ferries in service has dropped by 33%, and on-time performance has declined for five straight years.

KING TV: Engine failure takes another Washington state ferry out of service (October 2023)


Washington has one of the highest rates of mental illness, but its mental health system ranks No. 32.

The Seattle Times: How WA’s mental health ranking compares with the rest of the U.S. (October 2022)


70% of critical salmon species are not meeting recovery goals or are “in crisis.”

Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office: 2022 State of Salmon in Watersheds (February 2023)


Washington has three times more litter on public roads than the national average.

Department of Ecology: 2022 Washington Statewide Litter Study (June 2023)


Nearly 50% of Washington’s freshwater and 20% of its marine water is polluted.

Department of Ecology: Focus on: 2018 Water Quality Assessment (August 2022)


2.7 million acres of unhealthy forest exist in Washington.

Department of Ecology: Focus on: 2018 Water Quality Assessment (August 2022)