As Alaskans, here is a headline we should never want to see over a story about our state, calling it: “America’s worst state for business in 2021.”
Ouch! Yet, a CNBC story by Scott Cohn this week carried that very headline.
The bullet points:
“Squandered opportunities, high costs — and historically low oil production — leave Alaska at the bottom of this year’s state competitiveness rankings.
“Last year, weak demand during the pandemic pushed oil prices to historic lows, but even as prices rebounded this year, oil production in Alaska has not.
“This is the sixth time in 14 years that Alaska has finished last in CNBC’s annual Top States for Business study.”
Despite Alaska’s competitive tax climate, Cohn says, it has a corporate tax rate among the highest in the nation, the added high cost of doing business, high health care costs and sky-high utility costs – double the national average – and all of that works to make the state less attractive.
Alaska also ranks No. 49 in the Top States’ Infrastructure category, above only Maine, and its broadband connectivity is the worst in the nation, according to BroadbandNow Research. In education, Alaska finishes No. 47.
Weak demand during the pandemic pushed the price of oil – Alaska’s very lifeblood – to historic lows and oil production hit its lowest level in more than 40 years, Cohn says, but prices have rebounded this year. Production has not.
None of this story is good news for a state that claims to be open for business. Alaskans, all of us, have a lot of work to do.