In yet another wake-up call for Nevada policymakers, the state ranks in the bottom half of a new Forbes magazine list of the best states for business.
Nevada ranks 36th overall and came in dead last in the subcategory of “economic climate,” which measures job, income and gross state product growth. Other factors in the economic climate analysis include the unemployment rate and the number of big public and private companies headquartered in the state.
That said, Nevada ranked No. 2 on a separate Forbes list projecting employment gains, which is good news in a state enduring 13.4 percent unemployment after being hit particularly hard by the recession.
In the rankings of best states for business, Nevada also was ranked poorly by Forbes at No. 49 in the subcategory of quality of life, which looks at such factors as poverty and crime rates, cost of living, school test scores, health of the population, cultural and recreational opportunities, weather conditions and the number of top-ranked colleges in each state.
Nevada fared better on the Forbes list in subrankings of business costs (No. 7), labor supply (No. 33), regulatory environment (No. 36), and growth prospects (No. 6).
Topping the Forbes list overall is neighboring Utah, which compared to Nevada is known for having a more diverse economy, a more stable tax structure and for its investments in higher education.
“Technology companies particularly have had Utah on their radar as an affordable alternative to California with overall business costs in Utah 10 percent below the national average,” Forbes commented.
Three other states adjacent to Nevada also fared better than the Silver State on the Forbes list, with Oregon coming in at No. 9, Idaho ranked 16th and Arizona 20th.
Nevada did top California (No. 39) in the Forbes list.
The Forbes list follows issuance of a report this month by the Brookings Institution finding — as have previous studies — Nevada underperforming in education and health care and suggesting new initiatives to diversify and strengthen the economy.
Despite Nevada’s low ranking in the overall Forbes best states for business list, Nevada came in at No. 2 inanother Forbes list this week projecting employment growth.
Forbes ranked Nevada No. 2 behind Texas in projected job growth over the next five years.
Based on data from Moody’s Analytics, Forbes said employment in Nevada is expected to grow 2.9 percent annually.
“Nevada has been decimated by the collapse of the housing market and recession” with home prices off 60 percent, Forbes noted. “Yet Nevada and the rest of the Southwest remains an attractive spot for businesses thanks to low business costs relative to California, an abundance of land and its proximity to Mexico."
The publication added that Nevada and most of the states where strong job growth is expected are right-to-work states where workers can’t be forced to join a union.
In a related list issued in June, Las Vegas ranked No. 135 and Reno No. 142 in Forbes’ list of the best places for business and careers. That list ranked the 200 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the nation.
In subcategories, Las Vegas was ranked No. 123 for the cost of doing business, No. 173 for job growth and No. 158 for education. That list was topped by Raleigh, N.C.