Survey: Which States Are Small-Business-Friendly?

As Tad has noted, Thumbtack.com in cooperation with the excellent Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City has produced this attractive, clickable map of the 50 states displaying the results of a survey of small-business friendliness. It’s worth checking out your state’s standing, as well as that of states with which it competes for new business. To a large extent the findings come in just about where one would expect:

  • California plus the Northeast (aside from New Hampshire) are the most unfriendly overall. Add in the trio of Midwest industrial states (Illinois, Michigan, Ohio) plus Washington and Hawaii and you get the full list of seriously unfriendly states, with “D+” or worse grades.
  • The list of best states also includes few surprises: Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Utah, Virginia and several other Southern states.
  • Virginia (grade of A) far outdistances Maryland (C-), notwithstanding the views of Washington Post business writers who often chide the Old Dominion for not emulating the economic policies of its neighbor to the north.
  • Other states, even in the Northeast, tend to do OK in one or two areas—New Jersey and Vermont avoid piling costs onto new hiring, Connecticut and Illinois are not entirely hopeless on zoning, and so forth. The exception is California: it’s awful on everything.

There are also some data available on the city level.

Tad and Econlog’s David Henderson pick up on the following remarkable sentence from the study:

Small businesses care almost twice as much about licensing regulations as they do about tax rates when rating the business-friendliness of their state or local government.

Everyone knows high taxes depress business activity; it is libertarians who go on to offer a critique of licensure laws, and never has it seemed so relevant.