Executive Insight

CEOs rank best, worst states for business

Chief Executive magazine

CEOs who favor pro-growth, low-tax states ranked Texas, Florida and North Carolina as the best states in the U.S. for business, according to Chief Executive magazine’s 2015 “Best and Worst States for Business” survey.

In the annual survey completed by 511 CEOs across the U.S., states are measured across three key categories to achieve their overall ranking: taxes and regulations, quality of the work force, and living environment, which includes such considerations as quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates.

In 2015, Texas remained the best state for business for the 11th year in row, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Since the recession began in December 2007, 1.2 million net jobs have been created in Texas while 700,000 net jobs were created in the other 49 states combined.

According to one CEO, “California and Oregon are essentially anti-business, whereas Texas and Tennessee do everything possible to make business comfortable and more successful.”

California ranked last in the survey, followed by New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts. CEOs gave these states the lowest ratings because of their high tax rates and regulatory environments.

Another CEO said, “The good states ask what they can do for you; the bad states ask what they can get from you.”

Compared with 2014, Idaho has made the largest improvement in the CEO survey, rising 10 spots to No. 18, primarily a result of high growth rates in GDP. South Dakota dropped eight places in the 2015 results although quality-of-life attractions enhance the state’s low-tax bona fides.

State governments use the survey results to help determine how to improve their regulatory environments to attract more businesses; corporations use the data to decide where to build facilities and attract vibrant work forces.

In addition to full rankings for all 50 states, the 2015 Best & Worst States for Business survey includes:

  • Biggest Gains from 2014
  • Biggest Losses from 2014
  • Biggest Gains from 2010
  • Biggest Losses from 2010

In addition to CEO ratings on taxation and regulation, work force quality and living environment, the ratings also provide data on state GDP, unemployment rate, domestic migration and state and local tax burden.

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