America's Top States for Business 2009

CNBC's Top States For Business 2009: West Leads In Economy Category

If the economy in your state has got you down, and the 2009 findings of CNBC’s top states for business are any guide, our advice takes a page out of the past: “Go West, Young Man” (or Woman).

Nine out of the top ten states in the economy category are west of the Mississippi River and the exception happens to be the overall winner this year.

So, if you like the Midwest or the Great Plains, then you’re likely to find a state with a high ranking.

That’s largely because their unemployment rates are significantly below the national average of 9.5 percent in June.

Texasnabbed the top spot for the second year in a row, while Oklahomaalso held on to its 2008 ranking (3). Wyoming finished 2nd.

Iowa, where the jobless rate was 6.2 percent in June, leapfrogged half of all states to secure the No. 4 spot, having finished 29 last year.  Kansas (6/21), Nebraska (7/28) and Minnesota (9/27) also showed impressive improvement.

In all, only four top states from 2008 repeated in 2009. Among those, Wyomingwas No. 2 after finishing 6th last year, while Montanatied for 9th after nabbing the 10th spot a year ago.

Rounding out the top ten were Colorado (5) and Virginia (7-tie).

Six states from last year fell precipitously in the rankings: Arizona (33/8), New Mexico (32/8) Idaho (30/5), New York (20/2), Utah(14/3) and California(12/7).

Not surprisingly, the states with the highest jobless rates fared the worst in the rankings. North Carolina (42), Florida(43), Kentucky (44),Michigan (45), Indiana(46), South Carolina (47), Nevada (49) andRhode Island (50) all had double-digit rates in June.

Delaware (41) and Alaska (47) are the other bottom-ten members but both have unemployment rates under 10 percent.

On the positive side, three of the worst performing states last year jumped the charts in 2009: West Virginia went to 11 from 46;New Hampshire (14/41) and Vermont (17/42); all have jobless rates well below the national average.

We don’t rank Washington, D.C. in our survey, but in case you’re wondering about the place trying to do something about the weak economy and rising unemployment the jobless rate there was 10.9 percent in June.