Forbes Names Utah Top US State for Businesses

Utah remains the best state in the nation for business and careers, according to Forbes Magazine’s sixth annual look at the business climates within all 50 states, released Tuesday. Utah ranks in the Top 15 in all six categories the rankings are based on, a distinction no other state even came close to. Some of the reasons Utah ranks so high include energy costs more than 30 percent below the national average and an average job growth rate of 0.6 percent over the last five years. Over that same period, national employment has declined by 0.6 percent.

Utah is also favorable for corporations, with a 5 percent corporate tax rate that is significantly lower than neighboring states, and companies have begun taking notice with Proctor & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot and Boeing all announcing plans to open large facilities there earlier this year. Tech firms have taken notice of the state’s favorable environment, as well, as Adobe, eBay, Electronic Arts and Oracle have all expanded into Utah in recent years to take advantage of overall business costs that are ten percent lower than California, the historical hub of the tech sector.

Another factor drawing companies to Utah is its population is expanding at one of the fastest rates in the country, making for an ever-expanding workforce from which to staff new facilities. According to Moody’s Investors Service, Utah’s job growth is expected to grow by about 2.4 percent per year through 2015, faster than all but five other states.

For a second straight year, Forbes ranked Virginia behind Utah on its Best States for Business list, thanks to a strong, well-educated labor force and a pro-business regulatory climate. Virginia’s outlook is decidedly less optimistic than Utah’s, however, as a large portion of its economy revolves around military and defense spending, which is expected to decline in the coming years as legislators look to get control of the ballooning US deficit.

On the other end of the spectrum are a handful of northeastern states including 44th ranked New Jersey, 45th ranked Vermont, and 48th ranked Rhode Island. Coming in lat on the list for the second year in a row is Maine, which is suffering from stagnant population growth and energy costs that are more than 30 percent above the national average, making it an unpopular place for businesses to expand.