Top States for Business
Virginia is America's Top State for Business 2021
Top States for Business

These are America's worst states for business in 2019

American Electric Power's coal-fired John E. Amos Power Plant in Winfield, West Virginia.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A state has to have a vibrant business climate in order to win big economic development projects like Amazon's $5 billion HQ2 or Foxconn's $10 billion electronics manufacturing complex. Companies like these — and the thousands of others that locate new facilities or expand existing ones each year — demand a great workforce, low costs and a stable economy, and that is just for starters. These states probably never stood a chance. By the numbers, they are America's worst states for business.

The CNBC America's Top States for Business study, conducted every year since 2007, ranks all 50 states for business competitiveness using more than 60 metrics in 10 categories, including Workforce, Economy, Quality of Life, and Cost of Doing Business. And if there are Top States, there must also be Bottom States.

Here are America's Top States for Business 2019 category winners

You can see where every state ranks here. For 2019 these 10 states bring up the rear.

41. New Mexico

Railroad tracks leading into the historic train depot in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Robert Alexander | Archive Photos | Getty Images

2019 Score: 1,164 out of 2,500 points

The Land of Enchantment hardly lives up to its nickname. Quality of life is marred by the second highest violent crime rate in the nation (after Alaska). Schoolchildren in the state face some bleak prospects with the nation's lowest elementary school test scores. The Education Week Research Center put the state dead last in its most recent "Chance for Success" index. And today's school kids are tomorrow's workers.

Worst categories: Education (No. 45), Quality of Life (No. 44), Business Friendliness (No. 44)
Best categories: Cost of Living (No. 15), Workforce (No. 21), Infrastructure (No. 24)
Economic growth (2018): 1.8%
Unemployment (May 2019): 5%

42. Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas’ third-largest city, is in the Ozarks in north western Arkansas. It is the college town for the University of Arkansas and has ties with Wal-Mart, which is headquartered in nearby Bentonville. Fayetteville does not have any goods or services in the cheapest category, but it does have the second cheapest: Bowling $2.88Coke $1.13Canola oil $2.83
Wesley Hitt | Getty Images

2019 score: 1,139 out of 2,500 points

By the numbers, Arkansas is not a pleasant place to live. That makes it difficult for businesses to lure skilled workers here. Arkansas finishes dead last for quality of life, due largely to poor health. It is also the least inclusive state, with no statewide protections against discrimination.

Worst categories: Quality of Life (No. 50), Technology & Innovation (No. 44), Workforce (No. 39)
Best categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 3), Cost of Living (No. 3), Infrastructure (No. 20)
Economic growth (2018): 0.9%
Unemployment (May 2019): 3.6%

43. Oklahoma

Bricktown Canal near downtown Oklahoma City.
Don Klump | Getty Images

2019 Score: 1,112 out of 2,500 points

From kindergarten through college, Oklahoma badly underfunds its schools relative to other states. That leaves the state at the bottom of the rankings for education. That is not just based on the money. It is based on the results, with school test scores in the bottom tier. Education goes hand in hand with the workforce. State worker training programs are not getting results. More than one-third of participants do not get jobs when they are done.

Worst categories: Education (No. 50), Workforce (No. 49), Quality of Life (No. 46)
Best categories: Cost of Living (No. 2), Cost of Doing Business (No. 13), Business Friendliness (No. 15)
Economic growth (2018): 1.8%
Unemployment (May 2019): 3.2%

44. Maine

Lobsterman Jack Thomas holds a crab on his boat off the coast of Freeport, Maine.
Jodi Gralnick | CNBC

2019 Score: 1,101 out of 2,500 points

Workers in the Pine Tree State are among the least productive in the nation, generating just over $88,000 in economic output per job last year. That compares to $158,000 in Alaska, home of the most productive workforce. The state's infrastructure is poor. Bridges are in bad shape, and the state is simply not much of an economic engine.

Worst categories: Infrastructure (No. 47), Workforce (No. 45), Access to Capital (No. 42)
Best categories: Quality of Life (No. 19), Education (No. 19), Business Friendliness (No. 29)
Economic growth (2018): 1.9%
Unemployment (May 2019): 3.3%

45. West Virginia

The U.S. flag flies on Campbell Transportation's towboat M.K. McNally as it passes Mitchell Power Plant, a coal-fired power-plant operated by American Electric Power (AEP), on the Ohio River in Moundsville, West Virginia.
Brian Snyder | Reuters

2019 Score: 1,061 out of 2,500 points

In a case of a state living up (or down) to its stereotypes, West Virginia workers are the least educated in the nation. The state is among the least prolific when it comes to innovation, and there is barely a trickle of scientific research money flowing in.

Worst categories: Technology & Innovation (No. 50), Business Friendliness (No. 48), Access to Capital (No. 48)
Best categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 6), Cost of Living (No. 21), Economy (No. 33)
Economic growth (2018): 2.4%
Unemployment (May 2019): 4.8%

46. Louisiana

A line of oil tankers transporting fuel to the refineries located along the Mississippi River just north of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Art Wager | Getty Images

2019 Score: 985 out of 2,500 points

Louisiana's fortunes are inexorably tied to the energy industry, and a downturn in oil prices over the past year has not helped an already moribund economy. Year-over-year job growth as of May was practically nonexistent, which also has put a serious damper on the housing market. Quality of life can be rough in America's unhealthiest state.

Worst categories: Economy (No. 49), Quality of Life (No. 47), Infrastructure (No. 42)
Best categories: Cost of Doing Business (No. 13), Cost of Living (No. 18), Access to Capital (No. 33)
Economic growth (2018): 1.1%
Unemployment (May 2019): 4.4%

47. Alaska

Walter Bibikow | Getty Images

2019 score: 983 out of 2,500 points

School funding is always a challenge in a state where so many districts are small and rural. It is further complicated by several years of state budget woes. While per pupil spending in Alaska is among the highest in the country, elementary school test scores are among the lowest. Falling energy prices also are not helping. Alaska is the only state whose economy shrunk last year.

Worst categories: Access to Capital (No. 50), Education (No. 49), Cost of Doing Business (No. 48)
Best categories: Business Friendliness (No. 20), Quality of Life (No. 23), Workforce (No. 27)
Economic growth (2018): -0.3%
Unemployment (May 2019): 6.4%

48. Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi
Walter Bibikow | Getty Images

2019 Score: 967 out of 2,500 points

It is hard to detect much of a pulse in Mississippi's economy. Economic growth and job growth are practically nonexistent. Not only is the economy unhealthy, so are Mississippi residents, with high levels of obesity and infectious disease. The state's workers are the nation's least productive, and the state has the nation's lowest concentration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers.

Worst categories: Economy (No. 50), Technology & Innovation (No. 48), Business Friendliness (No. 47)
Best categories: Cost of Living (No. 1), Cost of Doing Business (No. 6), Infrastructure (No. 38)
Economic growth (2018): 1.0%
Unemployment (May 2019): 5.0%

49. Hawaii

A road in Maui, Hawaii.
Omegaforest | iStock | Getty Images

2019 Score: 941 out of 2,500 points

The Aloha State's location creates a multitude of built-in disadvantages, especially when it comes to cost. Because so many commodities and materials need to be brought to Hawaii from someplace else, everyday life — and business — can be outrageously expensive. But the state compounds its inherent issues with problems of its own making, like poorly maintained roads and onerous regulations. The one bright spot is that it is Hawaii, where great quality of life goes a long way toward making up for the problems.

Worst categories: Cost of Living (No. 50), Cost of Doing Business (No. 49), Infrastructure (No. 49)
Best categories: Quality of Life (No. 1), Education (No. 26), Technology & Innovation (No. 40)
Economic growth (2018): 1.0%
Unemployment (May 2019): 2.8%

50. Rhode Island

Highway through Providence, RI
Eunice Harris | Getty Images

2019 Score: 938 out of 2,500 points

The Ocean State has a sea of problems, but there are some signs Rhode Island has hit bottom and is poised for a comeback. The state is implementing a major program to fix its last place infrastructure once and for all, funded by new truck tolls. Officials note that they have paved 100 miles of roads and repaired or replaced 180 bridges in the past three years alone. This is Rhode Island's 5th time at the bottom of the rankings in the 13 years since the CNBC study began. Officials are determined to make this time the last.

Worst categories: Infrastructure (No. 50), Economy (No. 48), Cost of Doing Business (No. 44)
Best categories: Education (No. 25), Technology & Innovation (No. 27), Quality of Life (No. 28)
Economic growth (2018): 0.6%
Unemployment (May 2019): 3.6%

Here's America's Top State for Business in 2019