Utah ranked as the best state for businesses for the 16th straight year in an annual conservative economic forecast this week, with New York ranking dead last.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, a network of conservative private investors and state legislators, found in the 16th annual Rich States, Poor States report that Utah again topped a range of 15 indicators after adopting a flat personal income tax and easing pension and property taxes.
Economists Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams conducted the ranking of all 50 states. It favors states with generous tax incentives, light regulatory burdens and minimal debt.
“States with low taxes attract more business investment and more workers. People move to where they have economic opportunities,” said Mr. Laffer, a former member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board.
The study aims to build on demographic trends that have shown more people moving to states with lower tax rates and moving out of states with heavy income taxes.
North Carolina, Arizona, Idaho, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Indiana, North Dakota, Florida and Nevada rounded out the top 10 states after Utah.
According to ALEC, North Carolina ranked second for the second straight year due to ongoing tax cuts and other business-friendly policies. When the state passed tax cuts in 2013, it ranked 22nd on the annual list.
And last year, five states switched from a progressive personal income tax structure to a flat income tax — including third-ranked Arizona, which now boasts a 2.5% flat rate.
“Americans continue to vote with their feet by relocating to states like Utah, North Carolina and Arizona, where elected officials’ commitment to free-market principles and pro-taxpayer reforms were a key factor in achieving our top overall rankings,” said Mr. Williams, ALEC’s chief economist.
Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Maine, Oregon, Hawaii and Maryland filled out the list of the 10 worst states for businesses ahead of New York.
In the 16 years of the report, New York has ranked no higher than 49th — in 2008 and 2013 — due to steep tax burdens, high government spending and complex regulatory policies. ALEC noted government figures showing that the Empire State has lost more than 1.7 million residents in the past decade, including more than 300,000 in the past year alone.
Mr. Moore, chief economist for the free-market advocacy group FreedomWorks, said officials in these states would do well to heed the report’s implications.
“Our rankings continue to motivate state legislators and governors to pursue pro-growth policies while limiting the size and intrusiveness of government,” said Mr. Moore, a former economic adviser to President Donald Trump.