Mixed message

Texas named No. 2 worst state to live, but one of the best for business

Texas named No. 2 worst state to live, but one of best for business

Austin cityscape with the Texas state capitol
CNBC’s ranking doesn't think too kindly of Texas. Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

It’s a tale of two states. A new study from CNBC ranks Texas as the fifth best state for doing business. But CNBC simultaneously puts Texas in second place among the worst states to live.

Texas rates poorly for life, health, and inclusion, CNBC says. In fact, the Lone Star state holds the No. 49 spot in that category. Texas’ weaknesses include childcare, health resources, inclusiveness, and voting rights, according to CNBC.

Skilled workers continue to flock to Texas despite lingering quality-of-life issues, CNBC says.

“But when they arrive, they are finding limited childcare options, a stressed health care system with the highest rate of uninsured, new curbs on voting rights, and few protections against discrimination,” CNBC says.

Only Arizona fared worse on CNBC’s list of the worst states to live.

In 2021, Texas wound up at No. 31 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best states. Texas’ highest rankings came in the economy (No. 9) and fiscal stability (No. 10) categories. But it notched rankings below 30 in five other categories: healthcare (No. 31), education (No. 34), crime and corrections (No. 37), opportunity (No. 39), and natural environment (No. 40).

Louisiana came in last place on U.S. News’ list of the best states.

Despite its poor showing in the CNBC study as a place to live, Texas claims the No. 5 spot in the cable news network’s study of the best states for doing business. It ranks especially high for its workforce (No. 2), technology and innovation (No. 4), and economy (No. 8). In CNBC’s 2021 study, Texas landed at No. 4 among the best states for doing business.

This year, North Carolina grabs the CNBC crown as the best state for business, up from second place in 2021.

In an interview last year with CNBC, Gov. Greg Abbott emphasized Texas’ growing stature as a business magnet.

“We continue to see a massive influx of these employers coming to the state of Texas because, candidly, not only do they like the business environment, but … there’s a lot of businesses and a lot of Americans who like the social positions that the state of Texas is taking,” said Abbott, referring to recent legislative restrictions on abortion and voting rights.

Abbott went on to note that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, decided in late 2021 to shift the headquarters of the automaker from “very liberal” California to Texas.

“People vote with their feet,” the governor said, “and this [wave of socially conservative legislation] is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all. In fact, it is accelerating the process of businesses coming to Texas.”