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CEO Magazine has published it’s annual Best & Worst States survey of CEOs this year. Broadly speaking, the trends dictating how states are performing as economic actors these days extend beyond CEO opinion to include foreign companies’ increasing embrace of the U.S. market; reshoring and a renaissance in domestic manufacturing; the leveraging of state coffers flush from recent federal largess through tax cuts and other means; the rising value of experienced labor along with the expansion of automation; and the pandemic-era migration from city cores to exurbs and beyond.

Texas again places No. 1 this year, as it has annually in the survey since its inception. Florida ranked No. 2 again, extending its own string but also putting unprecedented pressure on Texas for the top spot. Tennessee once again is ranked No. 3 in state business climate by CEOs. North Carolina, at No. 4, and No. 5 Arizona flipped spots this year. No. 6 Indiana is a mainstay as well.

Just as CEOs have solidified opinions about the welcoming top states, their assessment of the worst has ossified: No. 47 New Jersey, No. 48 Illinois, No. 49 New York and No. 50 California remain the same as in the 2022 survey.

Tech layoffs amounted to an estimated 333,000 just since last year, according to a new study by Boston Consulting Group. California workers certainly have suffered the most.

But in between, there are some significant advances in this year’s ranking, especially the rise of Georgia and South Carolina, each up four spots to No. 7 and No. 8 in the Chief Executive list. They’ve joined Florida in the broad advance of the Southeast, especially as a new manufacturing hub.

In another related study of small business sentiment, the Freedom Economy Index surveyed a universe of over 80,000 small business owners throughout the United States, fielding the questionnaire from February 6 to 9, 2024, with 840 respondents. The survey has a margin of error of +/-3.0% at the 95% confidence level.

The survey compared the individual results for California and Florida, and also Red States and Blue States nationwide. The stark contrasts leave little doubt where small businesses thrive.

Only 13% of small businesses in California are happy with their location, which is nearly 40% lower than the national average, according to the February survey of 80,000 small business owners nationwide, a joint project of PublicSquare and RedBalloon.

Nationwide, half of respondents say they are happy with their current location and don’t plan on moving. In California, 13% say they are happy in their location, and 67% are either planning a move (10%), considering a move (30%) or they are feeling trapped, wanting to move but can’t afford it (27%).

Respondents were asked to identify which factors make them want to relocate, with the ability to choose multiple items, 64.5% of employers list high tax rates, and 59.4% blame anti-business government policies. Again, looking just at California, the Golden State is struggling, as 86.4% say high taxes are driving them away, and 84.9% say the anti-business government is also to blame.

But the weather is nice”