North Carolina is a top business state driven by workforce and economy

At a time when businesses are trying to navigate a treacherous economy and still need workers, no state is more effective at meeting workers’ needs. north carolina. Tarheel province is America’s most prosperous states In CNBC’s Annual Competitiveness Survey.

North Carolina’s top spot for the second year in a row is an unusual achievement for a CNBC survey that began in 2007. Business and the economy in the state have been sluggish since the pandemic, and the state has barely looked back.

In 2023 alone, the state will see investments ranging from a $130 million investment by Bosch to expand its power tool manufacturing facility in Lincolnton to a $458 million biomanufacturing facility built in Greensboro by a cell therapy company. Until now, it has built up a trophy case full of economic development victories. pro kidneyand even a $58 million turkey production facility in Goldsboro by chicken farmer Select Genetics.

These projects add to last year’s big wins, including Vietnamese electric car maker VinFast’s announcement that it will build its first North American factory in the state, as well as the Durham-based semiconductor materials maker. wolf speed We are expanding our business there.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper takes the podium to address the crowd during President Joe Biden’s visit to chip manufacturer Wolfspeed in Durham, North Carolina, March 28, 2023.

Melissa Sue Geritz | Getty Images News | Getty Images

last month, apple has submitted an application to begin construction on a billion-dollar facility in its famous Research Triangle Park. 2021, which initially has 700,000 square feet of office space. This is Apple’s first location on the East Coast.

What all projects have in common is “people”.

“Our talented and educated workers are the foundation of our economic success,” Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said in his State of the Union address in March.

The numbers back it up. North Carolina ranks first in CNBC’s most important workforce sector. The state, in particular, is a leader in attracting and retaining talent across industries, said Josh Wright, executive vice president of labor market analytics firm Rightcast, which provided some of the data for the CNBC study.

Learn more about the top states for business in America in 2023

“Charlotte is seeing a lot of growth in the financial sector,” he said. “But it’s not just a one-trick pony. We have the Raleigh and Durham areas. We have large, major, internationally renowned universities that drive growth.”

The state is also a leading country in career education.

“We have one of the most competitive community college systems not only in North Carolina, but in the United States as well, aligned with the needs of the industry,” Wright said.

Additionally, more than 89% of participants in state employee training programs were hired within six months, according to government agencies. U.S. Department of Labor data. This is the third highest number in the U.S., after Alaska and Massachusetts.

A strong workforce drives GDP and solidifies public finances

North Carolina’s strong workforce has helped it grow in other categories as well. The state came third in the economic sector. Gross domestic product of $560 billion grew steadily at 3.2% last year, but the growth rate flattened out in early 2023, according to the Commerce Department. National finances are sound. According to Moody’s, the company’s debt rating is one of the highest. And North Carolina’s housing market appears to be responding to the influx of new residents with minimal stress.

Home prices rose more than 13% last year, hitting affordability, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. But the census bureau says home builders are back in the doldrums, with housing starts among the highest in the nation. However, numbers from ATTOM Data Solutions show an increase in foreclosures to watch out for.

North Carolina also does well in technology, innovation, and access to capital, ranking sixth in both.

Political tensions put pressure on education and quality of life

The state performed well, ranking seventh in education, but in May Cooper declared a state of emergency in the state’s public education system. It’s a sign that the political easing that has helped the state succeed in business may be coming to an end.

“It’s clear that the Republican Congress is trying to kill public education,” Cooper said on May 24. “I’m calling this a state of emergency because we need to know what’s going on. I declare,” he said.

The proclamation, which has no legal force, comes after Republicans introduced plans to expand vouchers and charter schools, which the governor said would divert significant funds from public education.

The main proponent of the bill is State Representative Tricia Kosam. Switched from Democrat to Republican In April, Republicans won a majority in the General Assembly.

“We believe we need to evolve and the state is changing,” Kosam said in announcing the school choice law. “One-size-fits-all education is wrong for children.”

The newly empowered parliament has already passed a 12-week abortion ban Beyond the governor’s veto. This law came into effect on July 1. This year’s CNBC rankings consider reproductive rights as an indicator of life, health and inclusion, so the ban would adversely affect the state’s already low rankings in the sector. It finished 38th in this category, down from 28th in 2022.

Abortion rights demonstrators gather at a protest in Raleigh, North Carolina, following the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In addition to banning abortion, North Carolina is one of only five states with statewide discrimination protections that apply only to people with disabilities, according to the National Congress of States.

Violent crime is also on the rise, according to FBI statistics. The state also ranks poorly in health care, according to the United Health Foundation, due to low public health funding and many people without health insurance.

Scoring all 50 states

CNBC’s survey measures all 50 states in 10 categories of competitiveness for a total of 2,500 points. North Carolina won this year’s crown with 1,628 points.

our methodology Assign a weight to each category based on how often states list it as a selling point. The idea is to evaluate states based on the criteria they use when pitching to businesses.

Here are this year’s categories and total points:

  • Employees: 400 points (16%)
  • Infrastructure: 390 points (15.6%)
  • Economy: 360 points (14.4%)
  • Life, Health, Inclusion: 350 points (14%)
  • Cost of doing business: 290 points (11.6%)
  • Technology and Innovation: 270 points (10.8%)
  • Business friendliness: 215 points (8.6%)
  • Education: 125 points (5%)
  • Access to capital: 50 points (2%)
  • Living expenses: 50 points (2%)


This year’s runner-up is Virginia. Old Dominion ranks #1 in education with strong K-12 and post-secondary school support. But high costs, including high wages, have hit the state hard.

3rd place Tennessee Provides excellent infrastructure (No. 3). But the escalating culture wars saw the state drop to her 43rd place in the life, health and inclusion categories.

Georgia, 4th, has the best infrastructure in the country, including the busiest airport in the world. But the state’s tough legal landscape ranks 35th in business-friendliness, according to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.

5th place Minnesota Leader in Life, Health and Inclusion (#4). However, high taxes and low incentives drop the state to 39th place in cost of doing business.

of Most improved condition in 2023 New Jersey finished 19th overall. This is a jump from last year’s 42nd to 23rd.

The driving force behind Garden State’s rapid growth is its economic rankings rising from bottom in 2022 to number 19 this year, thanks to notable improvements in the housing and job markets. However, the national finances are still poor. The state’s pension system is underfunded, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, and has a low debt rating, according to Moody’s, despite receiving multiple recent upgrades.

lowest state

CNBC ranks all 50 states, so if there’s a state at the top, there must be a state at the bottom.

State No. 46 is west virginiahas the least educated workers in America. in 47th place Hawaii, the most expensive state in which to live and do business. No.48 is Mississippi, ranked last for business friendliness.State No. 49 is Louisiananot so good for workforce, infrastructure, livelihoods, health and inclusion.

The lowest state in 2023 is Alaska, the American economy is at its worst. Last year the state’s GDP he fell by 2.4%. oil production It’s the lowest level since the 1970s. The state is also the third most expensive state to do business in, after Hawaii and Massachusetts.

And Alaska did poorly in infrastructure, education, and access to capital, finishing 49th in each category.

new texas lows

The 2023 ranking will be the first in history. texas Finished outside the top five. Lone Star State is a close second this year at No. 6.

Texas couldn’t save itself through barrage Laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community and reduce voting rights. However, the lowest ranking in the Life, Health and Inclusion category reflects a high rate of violent crime and an inadequate healthcare environment with the highest uninsured rate in the country.

Texas is also not doing very well in education (35th).And the problem is growing in the states Power grid In the infrastructure category, it fell from 14th place last year to 24th place.

But Texas is still a business powerhouse.Tied California #1 for “Access to Capital” for the first time.Economy finished second florida. And because people flock to Texas whether or not Texas’ policies are universally welcoming, Texas has the second-largest workforce after top state North Carolina.

CNBC welcomes your feedback on the 2023 survey. Share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #TopStates. North Carolina is a top business state driven by workforce and economy

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