It’s that time of year, news in financial markets is slow, many market participants are sitting on a chaise lounge in East Hampton, NY, Nantucket, MA, or Dewey, DE, sipping on a cold beverage trying to ignore what news could come in the fall. We’ve been fairly clear, there is a lot coming at us in the fall. Student loans restart, the beginning of a refinancing wave in commercial real estate, tighter lending standards, etc. On top of that, the stock market will see a fair bit of volatility in October as the mutual fund community will have to find tax loss candidates to offset huge gains in mega-cap tech. When all that happens, the media will have a plethora to talk about and exaggerate. But until then, since they’ve got very little to talk about, they say, let’s make some lists! It’s one of the most important skills for any good journalist.
All joking aside, two sets of rankings that we love came out last week, and they are very illustrative of the types of data we look to when making decisions. First, CNBC’s annual Top State’s for Business is one of our favorites. The study compares states based on things like strength of the economy, education level of the workforce, infrastructure, and the cost of doing business.
As comes as no surprise to us, North Carolina and Virginia came in number 1 and number 2 on the list this year. The two states both rank in the top 10 for Workforce, Education and Access to Capital. If that’s not a recipe for continued economic growth, we don’t know what is. Other states that we’ve applauded for their business friendliness in the past also make the top of the list: Tennessee at number 3, Georgia at 4, Texas at 6, and Ohio at number 12. Interestingly, Texas fell out of the top 5 for the first time this year based on their “Life, Health & Inclusion” ranking where they came in dead last.
On the flip side, the Daily Mail ranked the best cities to start a career. This list was very clearly tilted toward technology and healthcare, as Austin, TX, Raleigh, NC, Indianapolis, IA, and Nashville, TN, all took spots in the top 10. This study took into account tax rates, affordability, and quality of life. While taxes and affordability may be easy to measure, quality of life is far from it.
But at the same time, we’ve talked about this ourselves before (calling it the city’s “vibe”) and it’s exceptionally important for luring younger generations. But all of the cities on this list have something that differentiates them from other cities beyond business. Whether it’s sporting events, bars, large universities, or outdoor activities, a city need a hook or “vibe” to bring people in.
Again, we may have a laugh as the media searches for content, but we also value these data for what they are, a compass in a sea of economic information.