The 10th annual rankings were released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. They are meant to be a snapshot of health indicators, including social and environmental factors as well as health behaviors. Using the rankings, counties can compare these indicators with others around the state and country.
According to the 2019 rankings, the five healthiest counties in Washington, starting with most healthy, are San Juan, King, Snohomish, Island and Thurston counties. The lowest ranked counties in the state, starting with least healthy, are Ferry, Columbia, Pacific, Grays Harbor, and Pend Oreille counties.
Snohomish County continues to rank particularly high on social and economic factors — second highest in the state, behind San Juan County. These factors include high school graduation, unemployment and children living in poverty. Snohomish is one of the top performers for percentage of children in poverty, with 9 percent compared to 14 percent statewide. Poverty can limit opportunities and increase the chances of poor health, even at a young age.
Snohomish County scored comparably to the top performing counties in the U.S. for:
- Adults reporting no leisure time physical activity (17 percent)
- Teen births (15 births per 1,000 women ages 15-19)
- Adults who currently smoke (13 percent)
- Adults reporting fair or poor health (12 percent)
- Low birthweight (6 percent of newborns)
- Deaths due to injury (60 deaths per 100,000 population)
However, there also are areas where Snohomish County is performing notably worse than the top counties in the nation. In some of these categories, the county may score well statewide, but not on a national level.
One example is severe housing problems, which include overcrowded living conditions, high housing costs, or lack of plumbing or a kitchen. Families with high housing costs may be forced to make difficult trade-offs in meeting other needs, according to the 2019 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report. For Snohomish County, 14 percent of households spend half or more of their income on housing — double that of the top-performing counties in the nation.
Other areas where Snohomish scored lower than the nation’s top counties include:
- Percentage of driving deaths with alcohol involved (27 percent compared to 13 percent for top performers)
- Newly diagnosed chlamydia cases per 100,000 population (323.5 compared to 152.8 for top performers)
- Ratio of population to primary care physician (1,970:1 compared to 1,050:1 for top performers)
- Percentage of women enrolled in Medicare who received annual mammography screenings (36 percent compared to 49 percent for top performers)
- Violent crimes reported per 100,000 population (205 compared to 63 for top performers)
- Solo commuters who drive more than 30 minutes to work (46 percent compared to 15 percent for top performers)
- Drug overdose deaths per 100,000 population (17 compared to 10 for top performers)
“The County Health Rankings are a useful snapshot of comparable health indicators. We are proud that Snohomish County is ranked third healthiest in the State,” said Health Officer Dr. Mark Beatty. “The Snohomish Health District will continue to evaluate a variety of additional health indicators at the local level. We’ll use this information to build on our successes and identify areas for improvement.”
To learn more about the rankings or see detailed information on the health indicators, go to www.countyhealthrankings.org.