Americans want change. They are fed up with real personal incomes barely climbing each year and with the share of unemployed and underemployed workers still north of 10%.
But there are parts of the U.S. that are thriving thanks to strong workforces, low business costs and pro-business regulatory environments. With that in mind, Forbes embarked on its annual look at which states have the best business climates.
Forbes’ Best States for Business ranking factors in 40 data points across six main areas: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most heavily. We added several new criteria this year, including the number of millennials as a percent of the population. We relied on 14 data sources.
North Carolina moves up one spot to rank second, and North Carolina is the only one to appear in the top five every year of our Best States study. North Carolina has the smallest union workforce in percentage terms in the U.S., which keeps costs down. Labor costs are 10% below the national average and fifth lowest in the U.S. The state also boasts a strong labor force and business-friendly incentive, legal and regulatory environments.
North Carolina attracted more new facilities and expansions in 2014 than any other state. The influx has continued in 2015 with multiple major expansions. Novo Nordisk announced plans in August to invest more than $1 billion for a bio-manufacturing facility and more than double its workforce in North Carolina with an additional 700 jobs. A month earlier software firm Interactive Intelligence detailed plans to create 200 new jobs in Durham. Both companies cited the benefits of the Research Triangle Park area with its wealth of technical talent and strong universities.
Best States: #2 North Carolina
2014 Rank: 3
Gross State Product: $483 billion
5-yr annual GSP growth: 1.4%
North Carolina has the lowest union workforce in the U.S. at 1.9%. The low rate contributes to labor costs that are 10% below the national average.