The 15 best + worst states for business in 2021

The two leading states for business are in the Southeast while the last-ranked two are non-contiguous states. 

The rankings for 2021 come from CNBC, which scored states on 85 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness, with each category weighted based on how frequently states use them as a selling point in economic development marketing materials. 

Some insights into four of the 10 categories: 

  • The "life, health and inclusion" category includes metrics on the fight against COVID-19, healthcare in general and corporate support for inclusiveness. The top state in this category is Vermont; the last is Arizona. 
  • The "cost of doing business" category measures tax climate, wage and utility costs, and the cost of office and industrial space, among other metrics. The top state in this category is Oklahoma; the last is Hawaii. 
  • The "infrastructure" category assesses each state's transportation system, condition of highways and bridges, availability of air travel, and quality of broadband, in addition to other metrics. The top state in this category is Illinois; the last is Maine. 
  • The "workforce" category measures the educational attainment of each state's working-age population, the rate of college-educated workers arriving or leaving the state, and the state's concentration of science, technology, engineering and math workers, among other metrics. The top state in this category is Texas; the last is Vermont. 

Below are the top 15 states and bottom 15 states. The complete ranking and scoring can be found here

The best 

1. Virginia 

2. North Carolina

3. Utah 

4. Texas

5. Tennessee 

6. Georgia 

7. Minnesota 

8. Colorado

9. Washington

10. Ohio 

11. Michigan

12. Maryland

13. Nebraska

14. Massachusetts

15. Illinois 


The worst 

35. Oregon 

36. Wyoming

37. New Hampshire

38. New Mexico

39. South Carolina 

40. Nevada 

41. Kentucky

42. Vermont

43. Arkansas

44. Louisiana 

45. Mississippi 

46. Rhode Island

47. West Virginia

48. Maine 

49. Hawaii 

50. Alaska

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