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From Site Selection magazine, January 2019

The 2019 Regional Workforce Development Rankings


Show me a governor who doesn’t take advantage of every opportunity to invest in the next generation workforce in his or her state, and I’ll show you a state that won’t be competitive in a few years’ time. Every state has its own circumstances, of course, from population to ratio of urban to rural school systems to companies participating in apprenticeship programs and many other factors.

But as much as they have differences in demographic and educational attainment factors, they also have some things in common. They have legislatures that appropriate funds to education and workforce training programs, for example, and they have capital investors kicking the tires of their state to assess labor and skills supply in case their business model requires a new location there.

Rather than rank specific state workforce training programs or STEM initiatives across the country or even across a region, Site Selection looks regionally at the state contexts in which such programs are applied. Is there a culture of proactivity, a leader-of-the-pack emphasis on getting graduates to work in in-demand industries and occupations? On skills credentialing? The states with that kind of focus on workforce will be the states with the individually branded programs that work, and that companies notice.

Ranking components here are: (1) CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business 2018 Workforce and Education sub-ranking; (2) Forbes’ Best States for Business 2018 Labor Supply sub-ranking; (3) U.S. News’ 2018 Best States for Education rankings; (4) ACT National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC) Rankings; and (5) average number of workforce development enactments passed in state legislatures (most recent data).

Northeast 2017 2018
Massachusetts 1 1
New Hampshire 2 2
New York 5 3
Pennsylvania 7 4
Vermont 8 5
Connecticut 3 T6
New Jersey 4 T6
Rhode Island 6 8
Maine 9 9


East North Central
East North Central 2017 2018
Michigan 3 1
Indiana 4 T2
Wisconsin 2 T2
Ohio 5 4
Illinois 1 5
Atlantic 2017 2018
Virginia 1 1
Georgia 3 2
North Carolina 4 3
Florida 5 4
Maryland 2 5
South Carolina 7 6
Delaware 6 7
West Virginia 8 8
South Central 2017 2018
Tennessee 3 1
Oklahoma 2 2
Alabama 7 T3
Kentucky 5 T3
Texas 1 T3
Arkansas 4 6
Louisiana 6 7
Mississippi 8 8


Mountain 2017 2018
Colorado 1 1
Utah 2 2
Idaho 6 3
Arizona 3 4
Nevada 8 T5
Wyoming 4 T5
New Mexico 7 7
Montana 5 8
Pacific 2017 2018
Oregon 3 1
Washington 2 2
California 1 3
Hawaii 4 4
Alaska 5 5
West North Central 2017 2018
Iowa 1 1
Minnesota 3 2
Nebraska 5 3
South Dakota 7 4
North Dakota 6 5
Missouri 4 6
Kansas 2 7

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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