Washington state, home to Microsoft (MSFT), Boeing (BA) and Amazon.com (AMZN) on Friday was dubbed by Bloomberg News as the nation's most innovative state, edging California, where Silicon Valley has become synonymous with technological prowess, and Massachusetts, home to world-class institutes of higher learning such as Harvard University.
Bloomberg rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia on six metrics including the percentage of residents employed in science and technology, the numbers of patents issued to state residents, and spending on research and development. Based on those criteria, Washington scored 83.25, topping California's score of 81.07 and Massachusetts' 80.93.
"Washington, known for rainy Seattle, abundant greenery and fleece-clad citizens, had the highest total score, not by topping any of the categories -- California is highest in patent activity and five states have more skilled workers -- but by placing near the top," the news service says. "That’s due to the large technology workforce, high productivity rates and plethora of public companies in aerospace, biotechnology and computer technology."
Washington, known as "The Evergreen State," has been a hub for technology since Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, was founded in Seattle by William Boeing in 1916. Decades later, Microsoft put down roots in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, followed by a plethora of other tech companies ranging computer game maker Nintendo to real estate site Zillow (Z) to travel service Expedia (EXPE). As Bloomberg notes, many firms are attracted to Washington state because its taxes are lower than those in California and the cost of living is cheaper.
Interestingly, Washington state's innovative spirit hasn't been hurt by the fact that its minimum wage is $9.19, the highest of any state in the country.