Special Report

Best and Worst States for Business

Samuel Stebbins, Michael B. Sauter

Source: teppakorn tongboonto / Getty Images

6. North Carolina
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.4% (25th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $55,086 (21st lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.9% (20th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.8 per 100,000 people (18th most)

North Carolina ranks as the best state for business in the South and the sixth best nationwide. Part of the reason the state ranks so highly is the relatively low cost of doing business. The average retail price of electricity per kilowatt-hour is lower than in most other states and, according to the Tax Foundation, North Carolina has a more favorable business tax climate than most states.

See all stories featuring: North Carolina

Source: PhilAugustavo / Getty Images

7. Idaho
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +4.0% (6th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $47,812 (4th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.7% (13th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.5 per 100,000 people (21st most)

Rapid economic growth is partially why Idaho ranks among the top 10 best states for business. Between 2017 and 2018, Idaho’s economy expanded by 4.0%, faster than all but five other states and the comparable national economic growth of 2.9%. Typical earnings for workers in Idaho are relatively low, which means the state may be less attractive to potential workers, but also could mean lower costs for some business owners.

See all stories featuring: Idaho

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

8. Virginia
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.6% (18th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $63,281 (11th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 39.3% (6th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.7 per 100,000 people (19th most)

Virginia ranks as one of the best states for business thanks in part to its regulatory environment and the presence of technology and innovation in the state. Nearly 9% of workers in the state are employed in STEM fields, the fourth highest share of any state. Virginia also has some of the highest bachelor’s and professional degree attainment rates of any state.

See all stories featuring: Virginia

Source: marcutti / Getty Images

9. Maryland
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.5% (24th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $68,242 (8th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 40.8% (3rd highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.3 per 100,000 people (12th most)

Employers in Maryland benefit from access to one of the most skilled labor forces in the country. Nearly 41% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, a larger share than in all but two other states. Similarly, 18.9% of adults in Maryland have a graduate or professional degree, the second largest share of any state after Massachusetts.

See all stories featuring: Maryland

Source: ElsvanderGun / Getty Images

10. Wyoming
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +0.1% (2nd worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $55,122 (22nd lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.9% (9th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.9 per 100,000 people (12th fewest)

Like several of the top 10 best states for business, Wyoming’s high ranking on this list is due in large part to its business costs. The Tax Foundation ranked the state as having the most favorable tax climate for businesses in the country. The state’s infrastructure is also a positive for businesses and workers alike. Wyoming has the shortest average commute time to work, and among the lowest cost to the trucking industry from road congestion.

See all stories featuring: Wyoming