U.S. News and World Report has placed Pitkin County high in the rankings for Healthiest Community in the country. In the third year of its study, performed by the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, Pitkin County was rated the seventh healthiest county overall in the country, and came in at No. 2 for the rural, high-performing category, just behind Routt County, which is home to Steamboat Springs.
“People who live in rural communities are more likely to own their homes and live in the state where they were born than those in urban areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from recent years,” the report states. “And while access to care and barriers to economic opportunity can pose challenges, rural communities with high-performing economies typically fare better in terms of housing and community vitality than their urban counterparts.”
Colorado counties lead the list overall, filling out six of the top 10 spots. Data collected across more than 3,000 communities compared metrics across 10 categories, including population health, education, housing and environment.
According to the report, Pitkin County residents have a life expectancy of 86.5 years, and register a 12.7% smoking rate, which is below the national median of 17.3%. However, the county’s uninsured rate of 12.3% is above the national median of 10.6%. Pitkin County is also above the national average for the work hours needed to pay for affordable housing, which is tied in with health outcomes. The national median is 41 hours per week while in Pitkin County that number of hours is 54.
Pitkin County officials announced yesterday they are pleased with the overall ranking, an improvement over 23rd place in 2018 and 19th place in 2019.
“This ranking is a testament to the hard work put in by many in our community including our public health team since the inception of the department over three years ago, and also to how we are working together as a community through the pandemic,” Steve Child, Pitkin County commissioner said in a press release Wednesday. “Those of us who live here aren’t surprised by this designation, we know we live in a wonderful place that offers a healthy lifestyle.”
Nearby Eagle and Garfield counties were rated 60th and 61st respectively. Along with Routt, Douglas County and Broomfield County both placed ahead of Pitkin in the overall rankings.
Earlier this year a Colorado-specific study placed Pitkin County in third place within the state, but noted that access to health care fell behind other top-ranked communities.