Top States for Business: Where Does Texas Rank?

Throughout our current blog series, we have primarily sought to better understand the factors that have and will continue to influence enrollment in higher education in Texas. We now want to connect the successful preparation of college and university students to real-world outcomes at the state level. To this end, we turn our attention to CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business” study that ranks all 50 states across 88 metrics within 10 “categories of competitiveness” that results in an overall ranking. In its 15th year of publication, the Top States for Business study allows state-level comparisons across facets that are important to higher education in Texas, including education, technology and innovation, and workforce. Specific methodology for this study can be found here.
Overall Rankings
The visualization below shows the overall ranking for each state across the past 15 years of data in the CNBC study, with the exception of 2020 where the study was not published.
  • As you can see by following the darker line near the top of the graph, the state of Texas has fared very well in the overall rankings.
  • From 2008 to 2016, Texas ranked 1st three times and 2nd six times before dropping to 4th in 2017.
  • A rebound to 1st in 2018 was followed by consecutive years of decline to 5th place in 2022, Texas’s lowest overall ranking in the 15 years that the study has been conducted.
  • Across all years of data, Texas has an average ranking of 2.2, with Virginia (4.5), Utah (4.6), North Carolina (5.5), and Colorado (5.6) rounding out the top 5 in average ranking. Mississippi (45.4), West Virginia (47.1), Alaska (48), Rhode Island (48.1), and Hawaii (48.6) are the lowest average ranking states.
  • The states with the greatest shift in rankings have been Michigan (best ranking 7th in 2016, worst ranking 41st in 2009/2010), Pennsylvania (best ranking 12th in 2011, worst ranking 44th in 2014), and South Dakota (best ranking 1st in 2013, worst ranking 29th in 2021).

So What?

So what has happened to Texas’s overall ranking in the past four data cycles? As you can see in the visualization below, there are several “Competitiveness Categories” where Texas is trending in a downward direction. With more than 60 different data sources used to create the 88 metrics that comprise the 10 categories, it is beyond the scope of this blog post to conduct a comprehensive deep-dive into what may be driving trends in these categories. However, we will explore some of the available data in subsequent posts as we seek to understand these trends more fully.

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