Since We’re Already Ranking All the States

By July 18, 2007Economy

Forbes is the respected master of list journalism, that popular data-crunching combined with a bit of analysis. Its 400 Richest Americans is a model of the art (an art much expanded since the advent of computer spreadsheets).

So even though we happen upon Forbes state-by-state rankings, “The Best States for Business,” only after CNBC‘s, we still view it as a valid exercise, worth taking as seriously as you would any review of this type.

Forbes ranks its top five states thus: 1. Virginia, 2. Utah, 3. North Carolina, 4. Texas, 5. Washington. CNBC’s top five (chart) are: 1. Virginia, 2. Texas, 3. Utah, 4. Georgia, 5. North Carolina.

Pretty close, all things considered. Georgia is 15th in Forbes’ list, marked down in comparison to CNBC’s number because of its labor rank (Forbes, 25, versus CNBC, 2 for workforce). The rankings of economic climate also differed (Forbes, 34, versus CNBC, 17).

As for Washington State, it’s ranked 5th in the Forbes ranking versus 22nd in CNBC. Forbes ranked Washington a very high 4th in “labor,” compared to CNBC ranking it 37th for “workforce.”

So workforce/labor is clearly one place where Forbes and CNBC used different methodologies. and reached different conclusions. Given what we know about the entrenched power of organized labor in Washington and its close affiliation with the state political structure, we tend to think CNBC’s ranking — at least on the workforce issue — more accurately reflects the business view of the world.

As for much-abused West Virginia, it ranks 50th in Forbes’ list, but 44th in CNBC’s (although 50th in business friendliness, which includes the tort climate). Definitely room for improvement.

Forbes’ state-by-state rankings in chart form is available here.

Oh, and congratulations Virginia. Things are looking good.

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