Virginia No. 2 in Latest CNBC Ranking, 16th Worst in Real-World Performance

by James A. Bacon

Virginia has risen to the No. 2 spot in the CNBC Top States for Business ranking, up from #3 the previous year. The cable business channel gave the Old Dominion high scores for access to capital, business friendliness, workforce, and — No. 1 in the category — education.

What a farce.

First, let’s talk about the correlation between CNBC’s rankings and real-world economic performance. CNBC ranked Virginia No. 3 last year. Its economic performance measured by GDP growth, according to Wikipedia? Thirteenth worst! Tied with West Virginia.

Adjusted for inflation, Virginia GDP growth was 4.0% last year. The national average was 5.7%. So much for CNBC’s predictive value. Last year was not an aberration. Growth has been sluggish for years.

Second, let’s look at the No. 1 score for education.

Here’s how CNBC calculates that indicator, which is given a 5% weighting in the total score:

We look at multiple measures of K-12 education including test scores, class size and spending. We consider the number of colleges and universities in each state as well as long-term trends in state support for higher education. We also consider historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which companies are increasingly seeking to partner with. With the search for talent expanding to include employees with marketable, industry-recognized skills, we measure each state’s community college and career education systems.

Considering HBCUs undoubtedly gives Virginia a boost. We have four: Norfolk State University, Virginia State University, Hampton University, and Virginia Union University. But, as we have documented on this blog — and as has been amplified by the Youngkin administration — Virginia’s K-12 public schools, once among the best in the country, are in crisis. Virginia’s standings in the national NAEP test scores are in free fall.

It’s apparent that Team Youngkin doesn’t put much stock in the CNBC ranking. As quoted by Virginia Business, administration spokesperson Macaulay Porter was not exactly spiking the football:

“Today’s CNBC rankings show that while Virginia has made gains under Governor Youngkin’s leadership, Senate Democrats need to come together to lower the cost of doing business and the cost of living,” she said. “Virginia needs to move forward as a leader in business and become more competitive and fund critical priorities. The governor’s budget amendments addressed these issues head on with common-sense tax relief for Virginia families and local businesses. Virginians need a budget that moves the commonwealth forward and addresses these obstacles to growth so that Virginia can thrive.”

And then there’s the education thing. It’s nice to have the reputation as having the best education system in the country, but Team Youngkin is the first to admit that K-12 desperately needs reform. In the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Virginia’s students, once among the nation’s highest scoring, now are middling at best.

Bacon’s bottom line: The CNBC ranking is worthless. Virginia should take no joy from its No. 2 ranking. It means nothing. Virginia’s economy is in decline, and we’ll never reverse it until we acknowledge reality.

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18 responses to “Virginia No. 2 in Latest CNBC Ranking, 16th Worst in Real-World Performance”

  1. how_it_works Avatar

    That’s OK. Virginia is *STILL* the state with these attributes that really matter:

    1)Most Presidents (8) of any state born here.

    2)Most descendants of Pocahontas.

    3)The “Virginia Way” was born and lives on here.

    4)The Capital of the Confederacy was here.

    5)A lot of cotton was grown here.

    6)A lot of tobacco is still grown here.

    7)The highest-per capita concentration of used car lots, 7-11s, and streets named after Confederate generals.

    (Well, that last one might only apply to Manassas..which brings me to #8)

    8)The Bobbitt incident happened here.

    I think that any business owner would look at this list and conclude that even just two, let alone all eight, of these characteristics mean that Virginia is the right place to do business.

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      We grew cotton in Virginia? I never knew that.


      1. Virginia has a higher concentration of customized license plates (called vanity plates) than any other state in the country. Approximately 1 of every 10 vanity plates comes from Virginia.

      2. First frat – Phi Beta Kappa was founded as the first intercollegiate fraternity at the College of William & Mary in 1776. Always been a pary school.

      3. The only oyster museum – The Oyster and Maritime Museum of Chincoteague Island is the only one of its sort.

      1. how_it_works Avatar

        Actually had a cotton plant growing in the ditch next to the road last year. Looks like cotton is still grown in Virginia.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          Yes, but not a lot. I think we produced a little less than 175,000 bales in 2022.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead

          Drive Route 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk during the months of October and November. Fields are as white as the driven snow. Virginia’s cotton, peanut, and hog belt.

          1. WayneS Avatar

            Yes. Cotton grows best in Virginia south of the James River.

      2. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Wait! Have you ever attended a Phi Beta Kappa party?

    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Don’t forget that (9) for better than 30 years Virginia’s top industry was human trafficking.

      1. how_it_works Avatar

        What a shocker…

        “Before April 1, 2015, Virginia was the only state in the nation that did not have any standalone human trafficking laws. ”

        Virginia is this unique combination of Northern wealth and Southern backwardness.

        I think the former enables the latter.

  2. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Cherophobic much?

  3. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    And, absent all the big-govt funny money grift infecting NoVa, how bad would the economics be?
    Lower taxes. Lower regulations. More freedom. School choice or quit funding it. Our system is pretty broken…

    1. WayneS Avatar

      Politically, based on the red-state/blue-state//swing-state map at, the tally comes to:

      5 Red (republican) states.
      1 Blue (democrat) state.
      4 Swing states.

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Well, hard for BR readers to argue with the results for Virginia… or the rest for that matter…

    What AI thinks Europeans believe Virginians look like… NAILED IT!

    1. WayneS Avatar

      I saw a couple who looked like them in Charlottesville yesterday…


      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        They hang out in Williamsburg too.

        About 40 years ago, the newspaper hired a sketch artist to “do” the people of Hampton Roads and then accompanied each with a paragraph. It was a riot. The Hampton and VB sketches were bang on ❗️

    2. walter smith Avatar
      walter smith

      Some of those were funny. New Mexico best. Some were pretty accurate – Cali and Oregon, but only if you do LA and Portland. Lots of real people in the flyover parts of those States.

    3. DJRippert Avatar

      North Carolina and Rhode Island must be the same place.

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