CNBC’s state rankings flawed and anti-middle class

By Steve Ahlquist

From the headlines, you would think that CNBC is the gold standard economic authority. After the cable news network released its 10th annual “America’s Top States for Business 2016” listing, in which Rhode Island was ranked dead last, local corporate media raced to bring the bad news to readers and viewers. CNBC ranks R.I. worst state for business, CNBC: Rhode Island ranked ‘Bottom State for Business‘, and RI back to dead last in new CNBC rankings are typical examples from the Projo, Channel 10 and Channel 12 respectively.

Missing from the Cassandra-like coverage is any hint that the rankings are meaningless and based on metrics that rate our state on how well our policies kowtow to the whims of business, not on how well they benefit the poor and middle class. Only Ted Nesi even approaches this angle in his coverage, but he did so through the lens of competing political discourse. But what about the economics of the report? Does it hold up under scrutiny? I’ve tackled the subject of economic rankings before, here and here, trying to bring some sort of real economic analysis to bear.

I asked Doctor of Economics Douglas Hall, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policy at the Economic Progress Institute, for some insights.