Ranking the Southeast business climate

April 20, 2010

The Chicago Tribune urges Illinois not to become a “New Michigan” or “New California” but instead mimic states such as FL, GA, VA, TN, TX, and NC.  In an April 11 op-ed entitled The Illinois Spiral they reference the third edition of Rich States, Poor States (from the American Legislative Exchange Council) in which our region scores very well:

ALEC ranked states’ economic outlook vs. their 10 year (1998-2008) economic performance based on 15 policy variables which influence the overall business climate.  The results look vaguely familiar to us, and are another vote of confidence in the Southeast as a preferred region in which to work, live, and invest:

5. Florida
8. Virginia
9. Georgia
10. Tennessee
19. Texas
21. North Carolina
32. Massachusetts
46. California
50. New York

As the Tribune puts it:

Employers tend to be harder-headed in deciding where to invest their money than our lawmakers are in spending other people’s money. The employers see Illinois pols dithering through a crisis, inviting an even more bleak future with their refusal to reform government spending and reduce what it costs to have a payroll in Illinois:

• Nor have you heard Illinois leaders, in their to and fro over an income tax hike, confront a 2009 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council: A decade’s worth of hard data suggests that states with no individual income tax created 89 percent more jobs, and had 32 percent faster personal income growth, than did states with the highest income tax rates. The report also analyzed 15 policy factors that influence a state’s growth prospects — tax burdens, debt service, tort climate, mandated minimum wage, spending limits if any — and ranked Illinois’ economic outlook as an alarming 44th in the U.S.

• Nor have you heard Illinois leaders confront this state’s devastating rank in job creation, 48th, and ask how they can be friendlier to present and potential employers. Illinois — with its overspending, its borrowing and its worst-in-America pension crisis — faces massive obligations that give potential employers pause. Add to this toxic mix Illinois’ high cost of workers compensation and its 49th-in-the-U.S. bond ratings. How surprised, then, are we that since 1990 Illinois has underperformed the U.S. in job growth?

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