The other states to make the top five are:North Carolinaat No. 4 andNorth Dakotaat No. 5.
Virginia, which has won the CNBC study three times over the years, suffered from steep declines in categories such as Transportationand Cost of Doing Business, and barely edged out North Carolina for the third spot. Virginia, however, did fare well again in the Workforce and Education categories.
The second-ranked state will be revealed at approximately 2:20 p.m. EDT on the "Street Signs"program.
Thus far, the biggest surprise is North Dakota, which tied for 13th in 2011. The state’s ascent is partly a result of its booming oil-shale economy.
How We Score
This year's rankings are based on the same 10 categoriesas years past, but the 51 criteria have been tweaked to reflect changes in the ways the states market themselves.
This year, at the suggestion of a number of state officials, we've added state credit ratings to the criteria, which are used to help score our Economy category.