By Howard Goodman
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
Here’s one group that really, really likes Florida:
The state is ranked as the second-best in America in which to do business, according to a survey of 650 business leaders by Chief Executive magazine. Florida overtook North Carolina, last year’s No. 2, which fell to the third spot.
Texas ranked first for the eighth year in a row in this survey, which asked executives to grade the 50 states in a number of categories, including taxes and regulations, quality of the workforce and “living environment.”
“Last year, Florida Gov. Rick Scott penned a tongue-in-cheek letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, warning him that Florida is coming after the Lone Star State’s top ranking,” JP Donlon, the magazine’s editor wrote in announcing the rankings this week.
“Since Scott took office, his administration has enacted business tax and regulatory reforms that have contributed to the creation of more than 140,000 private sector jobs and an unemployment drop of 2.1 percentage points last year — one of the biggest decreases in the nation.
“It is perhaps no coincidence that Texas and Florida have the highest net migration of people to their states from 2001 to 2009,” Donlon added — although that time period preceded Scott’s time in office, which started in January 2011, so perhaps it is a coincidence.
“(By contrast, New York and California lost over 1.6 million and 1.5 million in net migration out of the states, respectively, over the same period.) People migrate in search of employment, but this can cut both ways.”
Other high-ranking states on the survey are Tennessee, Indiana and Virginia.
The worst states, according to the surveyed CEOs: Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and (the very worst) California.
Since February 2001, shortly after Scott took over, Florida has added 72,300 jobs,, ranking fourth among states with significant employment changes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March, Florida gained 10,800 jobs.
Scott, a former CEO of America’s biggest for-profit healthcare company and whose first attempt at public office was to run for governor, promised to add 700,000 jobs over seven years if elected. As FCIR previously reported, most of the jobs created under Scott’s tenure are in the lowest-paying sectors, wages have decreased for workers at the bottom, poverty has increased and there was scant evidence that Scott’s policies had anything do with the state’s added jobs in 2011.
One of the commenters to Donlon’s online posting about the survey, David Waymire, of Lansing, Mich., offered an interesting rebuttal to the survey’s cheery conclusions:
Interesting that the states with the best rankings here have the lowest per capita incomes, highest poverty rates, and in the case of Texas, one of the highest percentages of people with no health insurance. Also by and large have a history of lax environmental regulation, contributing to the fact that residents of these highly ranks states also tend to have shorter life spans. Meanwhile, look at where CEOs choose to live, based on the number of millionaires per 100,000 persons…they live in the states that have low rankings. California, New York, New Jersey, Conn., Mass. So, the bottom line: Make your state a place where CEOs like to put their business and you can expect a poor quality of life and low paychecks. Make your state a place where CEOs like to live, and you can expect a better quality of life, higher paychecks and a longer life. How do people take this stuff seriously?