Connecticut gained ground in the latest CNBC ranking of “America’s Top States for Business,” bolstered by a strong workforce and good quality of life, but still ranked among the bottom half of states nationwide.
Connecticut ranked 33rd overall in CNBC’s 2015 ranking of the top states for business, up from 46 last year.
CNBC ranks all 50 states annually based on 60 measures of economic competitiveness, using publicly available data. Like most states, Connecticut fared better in some areas than others.
The state’s strong points were its workforce, which ranked fourth in the nation, as well as quality of life and education, which each ranked 11th.
Connecticut had a considerably weaker showing when it came to its cost of doing business (47th), infrastructure (46th), and cost of living (49th).
“The constitution of the workforce is solid in the Constitution State,” CNBC said in its analysis. “But costs are very high and the infrastructure is poor.”
Other factors taken into consideration included the overall economy (which ranked 26th), technology and innovation (19th), access to capital (30th), and business friendliness (32nd).
Connecticut gained traction in certain areas compared with last year. The workforce, for instance, ranked 32nd in 2014 and jumped to fourth this year. Other areas saw declines, however, like education, which went from being ranked fifth last year to 11th this year.
When compiling the rankings, CNBC also looked at states’ corporate tax rate, bond rating and outlook, unemployment rate, and Gross Domestic Product growth, among other economic indicators.
The CNBC ranking comes as Connecticut’s economic competitiveness is a hotly debated topic.
Several large employers, including General Electric, recently have said they are considering relocating out of the state because of rising taxes and business costs. United Technologies Corp., which is named as the state’s largest employer in the CNBC ranking, recently said it plans to spin off or sell Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft.
The biennial budget passed by the state legislature earlier this month increases corporate taxes, among others. The Connecticut Business & Industry Association has been a vocal opponent of the budget, saying it will further discourage businesses from opening or growing here.
“The new ranking of 33rd supports our contention that Connecticut has enormous economic potential if we make smart policy choices that build on our numerous assets and enhance, rather than detract from, our economic competitiveness,” CBIA President and CEO Joe Brennan said in a blog post on CBIA’s website.
“The ongoing debate over the state budget and tax package highlights the fragility of our competitive position,” he said. “If the anti-competitive tax increases become law, our forward progress will be short-lived.”
There is an effort under way in the state, spearheaded largely by business groups and chambers of commerce, to make Connecticut a top-20 economy by the year 2017. The campaign is called CT20x17.
Leaders of the effort say a robust state economy is necessary to attract businesses, which will lead to job growth, more revenue, and better public services. Among other things, they ask that supporters contact state lawmakers to urge them to support bills that bolster economic competitiveness.
“The jump in these rankings demonstrate that we are making progress,” Devon Puglia, the governor’s spokesman said. “With 6,400 jobs created last month, the unemployment rate dropping to 6 percent, and more progress on the horizon, we are no doubt moving on the right direction.”
In the CNBC list, Minnesota ranked No. 1 as the best state for business, followed by Texas, Utah, Colorado, and Georgia. Hawaii ranked last, with West Virginia and Rhode Island landing at No. 49 and 48, respectively.