Georgia takes the No. 2 slot this year in America's Top States for Business rankings. The Peach State finished with 1,616 (finishing one point above the No. 3 state, Minnesota), rising six spots this year due in part to its economy — the best in the nation, according to our study — boasting solid state finances and solid growth. The state also finishes near the top for Workforce (No. 3) and Infrastructure (No. 4).
However, there is room for improvement in the categories of Education, where it holds steady at No. 33, due to low test scores and spending; and Quality of Life, where it comes in at the bottom half of the category, at No. 28. Georgia is consistently adding jobs, but recovery has been difficult for the state.
Minnesota moves up one spot to No. 3 in America's Top States for Business, snagging 1,615 out of 2,500 possible points in CNBC's annual ranking. The North Star State's best categories are Education and Quality of Life, grabbing the No. 2 spot for both. Minnesota has some of the best K–12 test scores in the nation.
However, the state is expensive. It finished No. 36 in Cost of Doing Business and No. 31 in Cost of Living. The state also has the third-highest top individual income-tax rate in the nation, at 9.85 percent.
For the first time in 11 years, Texas finished outside of the top two spots in our America's Top States for Business rankings. This year the Lone Star State fell to No. 4, down two spots from last year. The state scored 1,602 points out of 2,500 in our annual study.
It's no surprise. Falling oil prices stunted the economy — Texas has diversified considerably, but energy is still the major industry — pushing unemployment above the national average, despite being among the fastest in the nation to add jobs. As a result, the state dropped in the Economy category from No. 1 to 25.
Still, Texas remains a juggernaut, with America's top workforce and best infrastructure.
North Carolina yet again holds on to the No. 5 spot in this year's America's Top States for Business ranking, with a score of 1,568 points out of a possible 2,500 in our study. The Tar Heel State's best category is Technology & Innovation, moving up one spot this year to No. 6 from No. 7. It also moved up two notches from No. 9 last year to No. 7, clinching another top 10 finish in the Workforce category.
Quality of Life is where North Carolina continues to fall short in our rankings, still sitting in the bottom half, at No. 28. As well, state budget cuts in school spending dropped North Carolina four spots, to No. 32, in Education. And despite the repeal of the state's controversial "bathroom bill," it is still 1 of only 5 states with no antidiscrimination laws for non-disabled people.