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America's Top States for Business 2017

01 The List

 

For 11 years CNBC has been scoring the states to see how they rank in competitiveness. In our America’s Top States for Business study we reveal key state economic indicators on everything from taxes and regulatory climate to the quality of their workforces. It’s a project that takes months of data analysis. We score all 50 states on more than 60 measures of competitiveness developed with input from a broad and diverse array of business and policy experts, official government sources, the CNBC Global CFO Council, YPO and the states themselves. This year some states were tied. Learn more about our categories and methodology.

North Carolina comes in at No. 5

Texas falls to No. 4

Minnesota finishes No. 3

Georgia snags the No. 2 spot

This year's winner is:
WASHINGTON

 

Full 2017 Rankings

Washington leads the league in America’s Top States for Business ranking in 2017. The economy grew 3.7% in 2016, nearly two and a half times the national rate. The state boasts the nation’s largest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers, and follows California in the most patents filed last year. The home of Amazon and Costco, Boeing and Expedia, as well as rising stars like space company Blue Origin, Washington has the old and new economies covered. Of late, the state has been a magnet for investment capital. Washington businesses attracted nearly $1.6 billion in venture capital last year.

This year's rankings are our most competitive yet.
Scott Cohn, Special Correspondent, CNBC
02 Methodology

This is how CNBC ranks the states

Our exclusive study scores all 50 states on 66 metrics across 10 categories of competitiveness. Our study is not an opinion survey; we measure actual performance by the states.

Our aim is to grade the states based on the qualities they deem most important in attracting business. To do that, we assign a weight to each of our 10 categories by analyzing every state's economic development marketing materials. The more the states cite a particular category as a selling point, the more weight that category carries. For example, if more states are talking about their workforce, the Workforce category carries more possible points. Workforce and infrastructure are at the top of the list among 10 major categories and 66 metrics used by CNBC in crowning its Top State for Business 2017.

Read more about our methodology

Previous years: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007

President Trump, at the signing of his Executive Order re-establishing the National Space Council — plans that could directly benefit the Colorado-based space industry.
03 Top States for Business Trivia

How much do you know about America’s Top States for Business?

Tap or click a card to reveal the answer

Q:
Which state has moved up the most in our rankings?
A:
Massachusetts had the biggest move up in Top States for Business 2017, helped by the influx of $5.8 billion in venture capital last year.
Q:
Which state is the most expensive to live in?
A:
Hawaii, where the average home price in Honolulu will run over $1M.
Q:
In which state are the most people unprepared medically?
A:
At 17.1 percent, Texas has the largest percentage of people without health insurance.
Q:
Which state is the least educated?
A:
West Virginia workers are the least educated in the nation; fewer than 12% of residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree.
Q:
Which state is focused the most on STEM?
A:
Washington boasts the nation's largest concentration of STEM workers, with nearly 1 in every 10 Washington workers in those professions.
Q:
Which states have no income or capital gains tax?
A:
Five states — Nevada, Texas, South Dakota, Wyoming and Washington — have no income or capital gains tax, either on individuals or corporations.
Q:
Which state has had the most year-over-year job growth?
A:
Utah, with 3.28% growth, tops the list.
Q:
Which state economy has improved most over the past 11 years, since our Top States study began?
A:
Michigan has seen the most economic improvement of any U.S. state over the last 11 years.
Q:
Which state is the most innovative?
A:
California filed the most patents last year; Washington was No. 2.
04 Commentary

What governors are saying

Before unveiling our annual rankings, we asked U.S. governors to weigh in and make the case as to why they believe their state is the top state for business. Here are the responses:

South Dakota Governor: Writing lots of laws doesn't create jobs
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard on why you don't have to create lots of laws to create jobs and business growth.

Washington State governor sees the trade war differently than Washington DC does
Washington's governor says amid a trade war led by the nation's capital, there's a simple reality: 95 percent of consumers live outside US.

Why Texas has exported more technology than California for two years in a row
Texas again beat California as the top technology-exporting state in America as it attracts Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and others.

Why Arkansas is becoming one of China's favorite states: Gov. Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas has attracted $1.4 billion in recent deals from Chinese companies, bringing to the state roughly 1,500 jobs.

Why Minnesota's governor returned $2 billion 'borrowed' from schools
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on how a major investment in a state's education system ultimately pays for itself through jobs and growth.

How Rhode Island brought beer brewing and other jobs back: Gov. Raimondo
Rhode Island is moving up as a place to build a business and find a job. Governor Gina Raimondo explains the decisions behind the boom.

It's time to reject an outdated worker vs. employer mentality: Alabama Gov. Ivey
States are forced into a false dichotomy between being worker-friendly or business-friendly, an idea Alabama Governor Kay Ivey rejects.

Arizona is becoming a car capital for a new technology era: Governor Doug Ducey
To boost its economy Arizona is supporting Google self-driving cars and Airbnb hosting, and landed a major electric car manufacturing deal.

A jobs deal from India that's as big a symbol of Indiana's future as Carrier plant: Gov. Holcomb
Infosys gets criticized for use of foreign worker visas, but it's creating 2,000 tech jobs in Indiana. Governor Eric Holcomb on the deal.

Oil and gas is down, but Facebook has $1 billion plan for New Mexico: Gov. Martinez
Facebook's investment for a data center in New Mexico could reach as high as $1 billion and will create thousands of construction jobs.

05 Full Coverage

Learning about America’s business landscape

America’s Top States for Business ranking can be very useful well beyond corporate offices. The survey could, in fact, be given a second title: America’s Top States for Jobs. Business executives don’t just chase the lowest corporate tax rates. They base investment and expansion decisions on many factors including housing costs, education resources and a state’s quality of life. With workers around the country on the move in search of the best job opportunities, there is a ton of valuable data in this year’s survey that can help Americans learn more about the economic climate in each of the 50 states. Here is the best and worst that states have to offer.

America's best states to live in 2017
Think you live in the best possible place? These states get high marks for low crime, inclusiveness and good health of their citizens.

America’s 10 worst states to live in 2017
These are the 10 worst states in the US for quality of life, including crime, health, social tolerance and the environment.

America's 10 most expensive states to live in 2017
CNBC reveals the 10 states where you will pay a pretty penny to live and plunk down big bucks for some basic essentials.

America's 10 cheapest states to live in 2017
You'll be surprised at the most affordable places to live in the U.S., thanks to low food prices, great home values and low utility costs.

10 crumbling states most in need of Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan
Trump backs a $1 trillion infrastructure plan mixing state and private spending. These 10 crumbling states need it most.

Our ranking is a strong indicator of regional economic growth in the U.S.
Scott Cohn, Special Correspondent, CNBC
Top State for Jobs
#2 Top State for Jobs
Photo credit: George Kavallines | CNBC

The 10 states with the best infrastructure in America
These 10 states have the best infrastructure in America, from roads and bridges to railways, ports, airports and utilities.

The top states to get an education in America in 2017
Here are the states leading in all levels of education, according to CNBC's 2017 Top States for Business report.

Top states to find a job in America in 2017
US unemployment has fallen to levels not seen since the turn of the millennium. See which states are adding jobs and growing their economy.