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CEOs Say Texas Best for Business, Calif. Worst

Company heads continue to look favorably toward Texas - and away from California - for economic growth.

An annual survey of American CEOs ranking the best and worst business environments state-by-state showed no surprises and few changes in 2012 - Texas grabbed the top spot and California remained dead last, both for the eighth consecutive year.

More than 600 CEOs graded each of the 50 states for Chief Executive magazine in several categories, including taxes, regulations, workforce quality and living environment. Texas kept its position at the top of the heap with stable, business-friendly policies, including no individual or corporate income tax, a lack of burdensome regulation and a motivated workforce, the latter ranking second in the nation after Utah.

The number of jobs in Texas grew by 328,000 from the official end of the recession in June 2009 to July 2011, comprising 47 percent of the 697,000 jobs created nationwide during that period. The Lone Star State's growth has not been enough to bolster the national unemployment numbers, however, though Texas' 7 percent unemployment in March ranks 20th nationally and below the 8.1 national average.

Florida moved from third to second place over North Carolina this year, due to recent tax and regulatory reforms that incentivized the private sector and cut state unemployment by more than two percentage points. The most notable mover in the middle of the pack has been Louisiana, surging to 13th place from 27th in 2011 and 45th in 2008. The state has turned its fortunes around since Hurricane Katrina with sweeping ethics and regulatory reforms, aggressive workforce training and economic incentives that lure disenchanted businesses from California and the Northeast.

Speaking of California, the state with the worst ranked business climate in the Union also holds the 3rd highest unemployment rate, its 11 percent only better than Rhode Island and Nevada. Businesses continue to flee the Golden State, with a reported 254 companies moving partially or completely elsewhere in 2011, 26 percent more than the year previous, according to Spectrum Locations Consultants.

Demographics tell the same story - New York and California lost over 1.6 million and 1.5 million in net migration, respectively, from 2001 to 2009. California is also home to one-third of the nation's welfare recipients, despite having only one-eighth of the nation's population, a disparity that could ultimately tarnish any silver lining left on the state's already-dark economic horizon.

Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois and New York round out the 46 through 49 spots respectively, nearly unchanged from 2011. (Massachusetts traded positions with New Jersey, the latter ranked 45th this year due to recent moves toward reform. The other states were unmoved.) Deficit spending, high taxation and government regulations that impede and deter entrepreneurship and growth are common among low-ranking states.

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June 27, 2019, 2:08 am PDT

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