Magazine ranks state sixth worst for business

Connecticut may be "open for business," as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spelled out in this year's State of the State address, but the impact of his policy changes didn't budge its business-climate ranking this year compared with 2011.

Chief Executive magazine's annual ranking of the best states in which to do business placed Connecticut at No. 44 among the nation's 50 states, the same spot it occupied last year. The rankings, based on 650 surveys handed in by chief executives of companies all around the United States, noted that Connecticut businesses are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a possible increase in the state's minimum wage.

Connecticut also saw the loss of more than 94,000 residents during the decade starting in the year 2000, according to the magazine. In addition, the combined state and local tax burden in Connecticut was put at 12 percent, compared to a national average of 2.2 percent.

"Connecticut could be the business-friendly refuge of (New York City) and New England," one anonymous executive said in a commentary section on the website ChiefExecutive.net, "but instead taxes and regulates like the crown of Old England."

Andrew Doba, director of communications for Malloy's administration, noted that the governor inherited a state that had seen no job growth in 22 years.

"We are seeing some immediate results from the governor's leadership," Doba said in an email. "Do we have more work to do? Absolutely. But that doesn't change the fact that for the first time in a long time, people know that Connecticut is open for business."

Doba pointed out that the state has seen private-sector job growth of 15,300 since March 2011. Over the same time, the state's unemployment rate has fallen from 9.3 percent to 7.7 percent, he added.

Still, the magazine survey placed only New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and California in worse positions than Connecticut among state business climates. But the Nutmeg State, which had risen from 45th to 44th in the survey a year ago, was listed as in a neutral business trend rather than negative, as had occurred when it fell seven spots in 2010.

Texas earned the No. 1 ranking among states, with Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana rounding out the Top 5.

"It may be no accident that most of the states in the top 20 are also right-to-work states, as labor force flexibility is highly sought after when a business seeks a location," according to the lead article by J.P. Donlon.

l.howard@theday.com

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