CNBC’s Top States for Doing Business: How the Tri-State Region Measures Up

CNBC recently released its annual America’s Top States for Business rankings, grading all 50 states on more than 60 measures of competitiveness in 10 broad categories: Workforce, Economy, Infrastructure, Cost of Doing Business, Quality of life, Education, Technology and Innovation, Business Friendliness, Access to Capital, and Cost of Living. Each category is weighted according to the frequency of use for each characteristic in economic development marketing materials. Below we highlight the findings in the 2019 CNBC ranking for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Note that these rankings are for the entire state, so the outcomes may not match expectations, reality, or perceptions for our regional neighborhood of northern Delaware, southern New Jersey, and southeastern Pennsylvania. 


Easy access to capital can put your business on the map, but unstable state finances restrain growth.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, Pennsylvania ranks 28th in the nation, down from 22nd in 2018. Most of the fall is attributed to a downgrade in PA’s Workforce, and Technology & Innovation rankings. Pennsylvania currently ranks in the nation’s bottom 25 in six out of 10 categories (see table), but also has some serious strengths in Access to Capital, Education, Technology & Innovation, and Infrastructure. Strong venture capital funding and bank financing for small and mid-sized businesses support PA’s 6th place ranking in the Access to Capital category. On the education front, Pennsylvania is home to six of the top 25 school districts in the nation, according to

New Jersey

Glory Days abound for the state’s strong school system — not so much for its crumbling infrastructure.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, New Jersey ranks 36th in the nation, maintaining its rank from 2018. Gains made across various categories were partially offset by losses in the Economy. Compared to its fellow states, New Jersey ranks particularly low in the Economy, Cost of Doing Business, Business friendliness, Cost of Living, and Infrastructure, however the Garden State ranks as one of the best for Education, and is competitive when it comes to its Access to Capital, Workforce, Quality of Life, and Technology & Innovation.


The first state to ratify the Constitution cannot match that No. 1 distinction in most measures of competitiveness.” (CNBC, America’s Top States for Business in 2019)

Overall, Delaware ranks 38th in the nation, maintaining its rank from 2018. Gains made in rankings for Quality of Life and Infrastructure were offset by losses in Workforce and Education. To the latter point, Delaware stands out from Pennsylvania and New Jersey in that it is the only one to not receive a D+ on its economy ranking (see table). The First State struggles in other categories when compared to its peers, specifically in the Access to Capital and Cost of Living categories.

Written by James Medaglio, Research Analyst, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia