Best and Worst States for Business

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36. Rhode Island
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +1.2% (8th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $58,670 (18th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.4% (14th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.2 per 100,000 people (13th most)

Rhode Island is the second most densely populated state in the country after only New Jersey. Partially as a result, roadway congestion is a significant liability for certain businesses in the state. Traffic delays cost the trucking industry more on a per mile basis in the state than in every other state except New Jersey. Economic growth is also sluggish in Rhode Island. In the last year, the state’s economy grew by just 1.2%, well below the comparable 2.9% national GDP growth.

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37. Kansas
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.1% (15th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $54,727 (20th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.8% (17th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.7 per 100,000 people (9th fewest)

High crime rates can reduce overall quality of life and make an area less attractive to new businesses. In Kansas, there were 439 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2018, a higher rate than in most states and above the comparable national rate of 381 violent crimes per 100,000. Also, the state’s 2.1% GDP growth between 2017 and 2018 was relatively modest compared to the 2.9% national GDP growth.

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38. Maine
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.2% (18th worst)
> Avg. earnings per job: $50,247 (8th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.5% (24th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.8 per 100,000 people (17th most)

New and growing businesses in Maine may face hiring difficulties in the coming years. Over the next decade, the state’s working-age population is projected to contract by 6.1%, even as the number of Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 is projected to expand by 4.6%. Additionally, according to the Tax Foundation, Maine’s tax code is not as business friendly as that of the majority of other states.

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39. Oklahoma
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.6% (20th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $54,282 (18th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.6% (8th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.3 per 100,000 people (4th fewest)

For certain businesses in Oklahoma, finding qualified candidates may be more challenging than it would be in many other states. Just 25.6% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree, and 9.0% have a graduate or professional degree, below the comparable 32.6% and 12.6% national shares, respectively.

High crime rates can reduce quality of life and potentially make an area less attractive to business. In Oklahoma, there were 466 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in 2018, well above the national violent crime rate of 381 per 100,000.

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40. Pennsylvania
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +2.6% (19th best)
> Avg. earnings per job: $63,578 (10th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 31.8% (22nd highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.1 per 100,000 people (15th most)

Pennsylvania ranks poorly on this list due to a number of measures of growth. The state ranks poorly in recent business growth and building permits issued, and is one of only 13 states with projected declines in working-age populations between 2020 and 2030. This may make hiring difficult for new and growing businesses.

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