Today’s best and worst place for businessLooking to relocate? Then head to Raleigh, N.C., and avoid Atlantic City, N.J., at all costs!

At least that’s what Forbes magazine is saying. Annually, Forbes crunches the numbers on 200 metro areas to determine the best and worse business climates. In June, U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rates fell to 6.1 percent, the lowest it has been since 2008. Although the overall numbers are looking good that does not mean every area of the country is experiencing gains.

Forbes rates each of the markets on a dozen factors related to jobs, costs (business and living), income growth, quality of life and education of the labor force. In this, its 16th report, Forbes used data from the economic research firm Moody’s Analytics and the U.S. Census and demographer Bert Sperling, who runs Sperling’s Best Places.

 So why Raleigh?

First, business costs in North Carolina’s capital are 18 percent below the national average and 42 percent of the population has a college degree, key factors in the Forbes report. Forbes cites the Research Triangle Park – at the core of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary combined statistical area – for fueling development, with 170 companies employing 39,000 full-time, mostly high-tech workers. In addition, the area’s limited regulatory rules makes it attractive to small business.

No. 2: Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines came in right behind Raleigh, with business costs 17 percent lower than the U.S. average and living costs 6 percent lower. The city has become a financial services hub, with employers such as Marsh, Nationwide, Principal Financial and Wells Fargo. Facebook has four data centers in the area, and Microsoft is investing more than $1.1 billion in a new data center.

No. 3: Provo, Utah

Job growth in Provo was tops in the United States last year. Brigham Young University is the stabilizing force in the $19 billion Provo economy, and the global multilevel marketing firm, Nu Skin Enterprises, opened a $100 million headquarters last year.

No. 4 and 5: Colorado

Business and living costs are higher in No.4 Denver than any other city in the top five but Forbes cites its diverse economy and varied outdoor recreational options as reasons why educated, young professionals are eager to call this city home. Fort Collins is home to many high-tech giants, including Hewlett-Packard and AMD, and offers many resources, including Colorado State University and its research facilities. 

The very bottom

When Atlantic City, N.J., was the only gambling destination on the East Coast, hotels and casinos caused an area rebirth. Two factors are contributing to its downturn: the soft economy and new gambling options in nearby states. Gaming revenues are down 45 percent since their peak in 2006, and by summer’s end, Revel, Trump Plaza, the Showboat and the Atlantic Club will be ex-casinos.

  • Forbes headed to Pennsylvania for No. 199, York, and No. 198, Reading. In York, the employment outlook ranks eighth lowest in the United States, and in Reading, high business costs and low educational achievement make it a weak city to conduct business.
  • California comes in with the next two lowest, first Salinas, at No. 196. Although its economy grew 5.8 percent last year, job and income growth are still sluggish. And Stockton, at No. 197, has an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent.

Click here to find out where your town – or prospective new home – places on the list.

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