Best and Worst States for Business

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41. Ohio
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +1.9% (12th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $57,319 (21st highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.0% (16th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.3 per 100,000 people (24th most)

Economic growth has been sluggish in Ohio. Over the last year, the state’s economy expanded by just 1.9%, well below the comparable 2.9% national GDP growth. Many businesses are also at a slight disadvantage in Ohio as the state does not have right-to-work laws on the books. Partially as a result, 12.7% of the state’s labor force belongs to a union, a larger share than the 10.6% national share.

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42. Illinois
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.1% (16th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $66,044 (9th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 35.1% (12th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.0 per 100,000 people (16th most)

Illinois does not compare well to other states in measures of growth. While nationwide the working-age population is projected to increase by 4.6% between 2020 and 2030, it is expected to decrease by 3.9% in Illinois, the fifth-largest decrease among states. The state also ranks below average in measures of recent growth in the number of establishments and in new building permits issued.

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43. Kentucky
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +1.4% (10th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $50,682 (9th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.8% (5th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.9 per 100,000 people (11th fewest)

Kentucky’s one year GDP growth of 1.4% is less than half the comparable 2.9% national economic growth rate. For certain businesses in Kentucky, finding qualified candidates may be more challenging than it would be in many other states. Just 24.8% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree, and 10.3% have a graduate or professional degree, below the comparable 32.6% and 12.6% national shares, respectively.

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44. Alabama
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.8% (14th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $50,165 (7th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.5% (7th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.5 per 100,000 people (8th fewest)

The cost of doing business and the cost of living in Alabama are relatively low, likely partly because of the relatively low cost of goods and services in the state. However, Alabama ranks relatively poorly in many other measures, including technology and innovation and quality of life. The state’s workforce is also less likely to have a bachelor’s degree or a professional degree than the workforces in most other states.

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45. Missouri
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.4% (25th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $54,349 (19th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.5% (18th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.1 per 100,000 people (21st fewest)

Missouri ranks as the worst state for business in the Midwest. Part of the reason for the low ranking is the major decline in the number of state businesses in recent years. The number of establishments in the state fell by 6.2% in 2017, the largest decline of any state. The state’s working-age population is expected to increase by just 0.9% in the next decade, less than the majority of states and well below the 4.6% national increase in the working-age population.

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