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From Site Selection magazine, January 2020

2020 Vision

Our annual 50-state report focuses on economic development laws, leaders, policies, indicators and projects from the past year. Use it to form a clearer picture of every state’s business climate.


The collective knowledge and capabilities of the U.S. workforce is worth an estimated $240 trillion,” wrote Joe Parilla, a fellow at Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, in a December 2019 research note, “four times more valuable than the country’s physical capital stock and 10 times more valuable than all the urban land in the United States.”

What form does that value take? One way to quantify it is by professional certifications. According to the Labor Market Information Institute’s analysis of Current Population Survey data made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 18% of the United States civilian non-institutional population aged 16 years or older has a certification or license, ranging from 14.8% in California to 22.1% in Maine.

It can take monetary form too: Nationally, the average personal income rose to about $54,000 last year, up 4% after inflation; and the typical county saw a 3% rise. No. 1 among the counties with the largest per capita income gains in that time was Midland County, Texas, where the average personal income grew to $124,455, a 57% increase, and now ranks 10th in the nation, “jumping ahead of wealthy places like Santa Clara in Silicon Valley and the hedge fund hub of Fairfield, Connecticut,” reports the Pew Center on the States.

Building our readers’ knowledge and capabilities (including about the very talent discussed above) is the purpose of State of the States 2020, Site Selection’s annual compendium of data that matter to global corporate location decision-makers. This edition includes the fifth annual installment of Rankings That Matter, where the six-point scoreboard features the following:

Tax Icon Rank in 2018 Higher Education R&D Expenditure (Total in $000s in parentheses)
Education Icon Rank in the Tax Foundation’s 2020 State Business Tax Climate Index (Oct. 2019)
Cert Icon Rank in percent improvement in ACT National Career Readiness Certificates earned by working-age adults between Dec. 2018 and Dec. 2019 (total number and percent improvement shown below graph)
Career Icon Rank in Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate state rankings by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ IT and Research Division, October 2018
Power Icon Rank by Lowest Industrial Electric Power Cost (¢/kWh, EIA)
Index Icon Rank in Fiscal Health expressed as Total Revenue as a Share of Total Expenses, FY 2004-2018 (based on data from Pew Center on the States, Dec. 2019)

Mix and match these data points according to your own organization’s site selection priorities, and let the facts guide you toward the best location choice.

This report was compiled, edited and designed by Mark Arend, Adam Bruns, Gary Daughters, Karen Medernach, Daniel Boyer, McKenzie Wright, Brian Espinoza and Richard Nenoff.

Sources: Standard & Poor’s (state credit ratings as of December 2019); ESRI (2019 state populations, population growths, median household incomes, and median ages); The Pew Charitable Trusts Fiscal 50 resource, based on data from state comprehensive annual financial reports; National Science Foundation; ACT; U.S. Energy Information Administration; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; C2ER; National Bureau of Economic Research; U.S. Census Bureau; Conway Analytics’ Conway Projects Database; state chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and business/industry associations; press reports; governors’ and corporate press rooms; law firms;; and legislative research services.

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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