Another Nonsense Business-Friendly Ranking, And Good News For Grads

by Categorized: Economy, Jobs, Public finance Date:

Two more state-ranking lists are out and the picture is interesting.

Two Connecticut metros, Hartford and Bridgeport-Stamford, are in the Top Ten small cities for college graduates to start their careers, according to CreditDonkey, the financial education site aimed at millennials.

That contrasts with the sixth annual “Rich States, Poor States” report by the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, ranking states by economic competitiveness. Connecticut is near the bottom, of course. We’re No. 46, largely because of lack of growth, the exodus of 102,670 people between 2002 and 2011, tax policy and costs, especially debt.

Let’s take a look at the winners and losers in this report, written by right-wing all-stars Arthur Laffer (the Reagan economist), Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Williams of ALEC.

Utah, the perennial leader, is No. 1 again.  The top states read like a Republican utopia of hardscrabble nothingness — North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Idaho, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida are also part of the Top Ten. Thanks to the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, for its look at the report.

After years on top of ALEC’s business-friendly rankings, Utah must be climbing fast in median household income, the single most important measure of broad prosperity, right?

Between 2003 and 2011, according to Census data, Utah’s median grew by 12.6 percent to $55,493.  The U.S. median jumped by 15.5 percent to $50,054.

And woeful Connecticut? Median household income rose by 19 percent in those years, to $65,415 — No. 3 behind Maryland and New Hampshire. This isn’t an average, which skyrockets in Connecticut because of all the hedge-fund billionaires. It’s a median, the measure of a typical family’s income.

What we have here is a group of ideologues bent on proving that backward states with poor services, lousy schools and a hellish quality of life for working families are magnets for business.  There’s absolutely no science behind it. It’s a religion based on the twisted idea that low wages and low taxes are some kind of magic formula for success.

Certainly Connecticut wastes a lot of money, as the Yankee Institute and others — including us at The Courant — point out. And Connecticut has serious, deep-rooted fiscal troubles that make the business climate less than ideal. Job growth remains low and that hurts people looking for new opportunities.  But we’re doing something right or median income would fall.

These dozens of “business-friendly” lists that keep popping up are getting way too little scrutiny.

The CreditDonkey list is a look at three factors: median income, the average premium paid to college graduates and the cost of living. Bridgeport-Stamford is No. 2 despite high costs, because college grads in Fairfield County make twice as much as non-grads. And Hartford is No. 9, with a 73 percent college degree premium.  Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Cal. is No. 1 and Worcester comes in at No. 7.

As always, Connecticut fares well when it comes to pay and quality of life measures. By also looking at costs, CreditDonkey is offering a slightly nuanced view of the world.


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20 thoughts on “Another Nonsense Business-Friendly Ranking, And Good News For Grads

  1. paul

    A tepid attempt is made to provide an analytical rebuttal to CT’s lousy ranking but Mr. Harr ultimately derides the rankings and the authors of the ranking. Is there no unbiased journalism anymore? How in the Hell is this stuff allowed to be published? Where have standards gone in journalism? So how about deleting this op-ed piece and generating a story that details, in an unbiased fashion using more than median income, why CT’s ranking is flawed.

  2. Rob

    You certainly didn’t really expect unbiased reporting from this alleged newspaper. What else could Mr. Haar do? There would be no other way to rank CT well aside from income. Yes we have good public schools and quality of life. We also have aging, crumbling infrastructure and UNREASONABLE public debt, with politicians determined to do nothing but spend more.

  3. mark

    Great place if your politically connected or work for government. CT economy has officially derailed. Capital follows the lowest cost producer. Were the highest cost producer.

  4. Dan Haar

    Obviously the Connecticut economy has not derailed, based on rising income, though as I clearly state, new opportunities are not as plentiful. As for bias, I’m paid to write opinion and perspective. I report all of that with facts, so I’m probably more balanced than most columnists and the bias is always backed by logic. If anyone here seriously thinks North Dakota and Wyoming are radically better places for business across the board than Connecticut, I’ll have what you’re having.

    1. paul

      Mr Haar,

      With all due respect, I would expect anyone’s perspective to be based on analytical reasoning to some extent. Please defend your conclusion that rising median incomes outweigh all the negatives that are at play in the CT economy. I ask you (and others who make claims that are passed off as validated with analytical data such as rising median incomes) to structure your reasoning in a logical fashion – give your data, interpret your data, show how your data refutes the rankings, state your conclusion. All you do is state your conclusion (with attacks on the rankings and the authors of the rankings). In your post, defend your assessment that North Dakota and Wyoming are not significantly better places for business than CT. I applaud you for trying to defend your point with a dismissive phrase such as “I’ll have what you’re having”. But that is a lazy man’s method of argument. Sadly, you’re in good company as the ability to engage in true argument is a thing of the past. People deserve better from journalists.

    2. Mike Steven

      I have to agree but of the increase in income and wealth has come to the reach and in those areas living closer to Stamford than Bridgeport. Bridgeport is a mess and is worse now than before. As far North Dakota or Wyoming being better than CT. I don’t know as I have never been there but they sure can’t be worse.

      The only thing that saves CT is being close to NYC.

    3. Jamie Mathews

      Mr Haar –

      I’m sorry, yuo just said that your “bias is always backed by logic.”

      Really? In this piece, you describe the conservative states as “backwards” and “hardscrabble nothingness” with a “hellish quality of life”.

      Where is the logic to back those statements? Yuo offered precisely zero support for those observations, so let’s call them what we all know they are – deluded, ideologically motivated, hate-filled rantings froma gyu who can’t admit that his own state has been an experiment in pure liberalsim, and that experiment has been an abject failure, as noted by our taxes, cost of living, and crushing debt.

  5. paul

    Mr. Haar,

    I just read your article “Stamford Overtakes Hartford After Years Of Population Gains” and would hold that up as a template for the type of article that should always be written. That article was a solid example of a well structured and logical presentation of data that was then analyzed with an analytical and critical eye. The present article is similarly based on quantitative data that warranted the same analysis.

  6. Curt

    The problem with quotes like this “What we have here is a group of ideologues bent on proving that backward states with poor services, lousy schools and a hellish quality of life for working families are magnets for business.” is that they perfectly well describe the qualities of Connecticut’s cities packed as they are to the gills with the semi-literate downtrodden hoards with no prospect of improvement for themselves or their cities.

    Connecticut has created these crumbling impoverished human wastelands. Not Utah, or Texas, or any other place.

    Finally, nice piece in which to forget that which you know very well. Most of the income growth during the period you describe accrued to the spectacularly wealthy. Not hard working middle class families.

  7. jkeving

    Mr. Haar:
    I am in a unique position to correct you here. I have lived in CT for 30yrs and owned a business for more than 20yrs. I have seen this state sink during this time to be a mere shell of its former robust self. Recently I purchased a home in Utah and can tell you how wrong you are. Salt Lake City, Park City and other areas are booming. Thousands of young people and cheap cost of living give them the opportunities no longer here. Great outdoor living, gleaming hospitals, summer festivals and skiing – not a wasteland sir.
    My daughter, a recent college grad, (fortunately) has a job in Stamford. It is so expensive to live there that, even with competitive pay, she needs to be supplemented by her parents. The exodus from this state by young graduates speaks volumes.

  8. Quinte West

    Mr Haar– are those other states schools “lousy” because they don’t give away free breakfast, lunch and take home backpacks of food to more than half of their students? Or provide in school dental and medical care to entire school districts? If CT schools are so vastly superior, why do we continually hear about 50% ( or less) graduation rates? Or School violence? Or the growing educational “achievement gap” ( which is a euphemism for ” the gap between children whose parents value education and those children whose parents don’t) If you think that CT has better services, then you have never been to DMV, or know anyone who has ever applied for Medicaid. You criticize the quality of life in other states? Ever been to the cesspools called Hartford, Bridgeport or any other urban center that is supported by non resident taxpayers?
    If the report is ” a religion based on the twisted idea that low wages and low taxes are some kind of magic formula for success” then what religion or twisted idea is a better formula? The CT model? Tax,legislate and regulate the way to prosperity? Hows that working out for you??

  9. you are clueless

    Kipplinger’s has a list of 10 best cities for young adults and recent grads. On the list – Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Not on the list – anyplace in CT.
    We’re taxed the money to educate them and they get the benefit of hiring them.

  10. Bob Fortier

    I am a Certified Financial Planner, been self-employed for over thirty years here in Connecticut. The pot has run dry, legislation has pretty much made my job here a nightmare, my 2012 State Income Taxes could pay for the property taxes on four nice homes in Florida, and unless you are gay, on welfare, or support Obama in this state, you are a neanderthal…
    My best financial plan for any decent future is what we have decided to act on, moving to Florida where they actually let you build businesses and don’t hate anyone not living off the government teats. The article could have easily been about “McDonalds makes healthy meals”.

  11. dom

    Mr. Haar,
    This is merely a question; a curiosity, not a challenge.

    You wrote near the end or your piece, “But we’re doing something right or median income would fall.”

    What are the things we are doing right?

  12. Lucy Van Pelt

    Remember Lucy telling Charlie Brown, “Tell your statistics to shut up?”

    I believe the point of Dan’s column is that is is possible to use numbers to show almost anything. I also have lived in CT most of my life and I have traveled extensively throughout the country on business and vacation including many of the states mentioned in the column.

    If anyone wants to seriously argue that Connecticut is less desirable than the so-called top ten cities for opportunity – then by all means, feel free to relocate to Mississippi or Florida or Georgia or one of the Dakotas.

    No offense to any of those states – but come on, really? Actually, “utopia of hardscrabble nothingness” is a very good line.

    1. paul

      I beg to differ Lucy, that is not the point of Mr. Haar’s column. The point is to diminish the significance of a poor ranking for CT by mocking the rankings and the authors of the rankings (based on political bent). Along the way, instead of elevating the status of CT (with the exception of citing increasing median income), he chooses to diminish other states with condescension. You follow Mr. Haar’s method of argument by providing no evidence that CT is better than higher ranked states. You give a dismissive “then by all means, feel free to relocate to Mississippi or Florida or Georgia or one of the Dakotas”. It really is a shame that the ability to generate a convincing and compelling argument is now beyond the abilty of most people.

  13. Dave

    If Dan believes Connecticut is a business friendly state he is in denial (like most liberals).

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