Illinois Jumps From 30th To 15th In States For Business Ranking

A ranking of America’s Top States For Business was recently updated for 2021, and Illinois has climbed from 30th to 15th in the last two years.

CNBC’s rankings score all 50 states across 85 different metrics, and then divides those up into broader categories. The methodology is here.

When the rankings were released for 2019, Illinois ranked 30th. Since then, Illinois has improved: five spots in cost of doing business, 15 spots in infrastructure, two spots in access to capital, 23 spots in education, and one spot in cost of living. Illinois has dipped in economy, business friendliness and technology.

As CNBC noted in their snapshot: The Land of Lincoln’s infrastructure is best. But the state’s finances, while showing signs of improvement, are troubled.

The finances are still reeling from not paying bills for nearly 2 1/2 years, junking the state’s credit status and building up the debt further from 2015 to 2018. The debt and credit status has improved since 2018, but still lags other states. It took until last year for the state’s credit rating to get bumped back up to Baa2, stable/BBB, stable (Moody’s/S&P). Those ratings are not good, but…better.

Attempts to improve that further were squelched in 2020 with the defeat of a graduated tax plan, leaving the state still behind most in that category. Illinois has been surprisingly fiscal in recent years in attempts to reduce that debt, but at a rank of the 48th best economy, there is still much work to be done there.

Still, rankings like this are used by states to sell themselves. And it runs counter to rhetoric from the likes of Ken Griffin and ilk. Moving from 30th to 15th may fall shy of a giant leap, but it is a few small steps in the right direction.


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