Sizing up the commonwealth

Rankings show Virginia’s strengths and weak spots

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Print this page by Robert Powell

#1: Top Pro-Business State

Pollina Corporate Real Estate
This annual study by Illinois-based Pollina Corporate Real Estate examines 29 factors measuring states’ efforts to be pro-business. Virginia has ranked first four times — in 2010, in 2009, 2007 and 2003.

#2: Best States for Business
Virginia owned the top spot in’s survey for four years before slipping to second behind Utah in 2010. In compiling its ranking, the website examines business cost, regulatory climate, quality of the work force and economic growth.

#2: America’s Top States for Business

CNBC ranks states according to 10 categories, including the cost of doing business, the strength of the economy, the cost of living and business friendliness. Virginia occupied the top spot in 2007 and 2009. Texas was No. 1 in 2010.

#4: Top State Business Climate Rankings

Site Selection magazine
North Carolina was No. 1 for the ninth time in 10 years, followed by Tennessee and Texas. The rankings are compiled using executive surveys, the number of new plants per million population and measurements of competitiveness.

#4: Best Public Education

Education Week
Virginia ranked behind Maryland, Massachusetts and New York in Education Week’s 2011 Quality Counts Report.

#6: Adult Residents with Bachelor’s Degrees

Virginia Performs
The percentage of adult Virginians with at least a bachelor’s degree rose from 31.7 percent in 2002 to 34 percent in 2009. The national average in 2009 was 27.9 percent. Massachusetts had the highest percent of college-educated adults, 38.2 percent.

#7: Lowest Violent Crime Rate

Virginia Performs
The Old Dominion’s s violent crime rate was 227 incidents per 100,000 people in 2009, down from 282 in 2000. Maine had the lowest rate with 120 crimes per 100,000 people.

#7: Highest Per-Capita Income

U.S. Department of Commerce
In 2009, Virginia’s per-capita personal income was $44,129 per capita. Among the states, Connecticut had the highest income, $55,063. Per-capita income in the District of Columbia was even higher, $66,000.

#8: Highest Traffic Congestion

Virginia Performs
The average commute time to work in Virginia was 26.9 minutes in 2008. The national average is 25.5 minutes. North Dakota had the quickest average commute, 16 minutes.

#9: Lowest Unemployment

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Virginia’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 6.7 percent in December. North Dakota had the lowest rate, 3.8 percent, followed by Nebraska, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Hawaii and Wyoming.

#9: Lowest Poverty

Virginia Performs
In 2009, 10.5 percent of Virginia’s population was in poverty, up from 9.6 percent in 2006. The national average for 2009 was 14.3 percent. New Hampshire had the lowest poverty rate, 8.5 percent.

#12: State Business Tax Climate

The Tax Foundation
Virginia has improved its position on this list since 2006 when it was 17th. The foundation looks at corporate, individual, sales and property taxes in coming up with its list. South Dakota was named the state with the best tax climate.

#12: Nest Egg Index

A.G. Edwards
The index ranks the ability of state residents to build and nurture savings and retirement assets. New Jersey topped the list.

#12: Most Populous State

Bureau of the Census
Virginia had slightly more than 8 million residents in 2010, up 13 percent from 2000. Neighboring North Carolina was 10th with 9.5 million. California was first with 37 million.

#15: America’s Best States to Live
Utah again came out on top in another survey, this one looking at quality of life issues. The ranking was based on a yearlong, random-dial telephone survey of 355,000 Americans.

#15: Lowest Level of Uninsured Residents

Virginia Performs
In 2009, 14.7 percent of Virginia’s population was not covered by health insurance. The national average for uninsured people was 18.8 percent that year. In the same year, Virginia’s rate was 14.7 percent, ranking it 15th among all the states. Massachusetts, which has mandated insurance coverage, has the lowest percentage of uninsured, 5.2 percent.

#16: Lowest Adult Obesity Rate

Virginia Performs
In 2009, Virginia’s obesity rate for adults stood at 25.5 percent, slightly lower than the national average (26.9 percent). Colorado led the nation with only 18.9 percent obesity.

#23: Highest Energy Consumption

Virginia Performs
Virginia’s annual energy increased from 316 million BTUs per person in 1990 to 322 million BTUs per person in 2008. That level is still below the national average of 327 million BTUs. New York had the nation’s lowest energy consumption per capita at 205 million BTUs in 2008.

#26: Fewest Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease

Virginia Performs
Virginia’s death rate from circulatory system disease has fallen every year since 2000. After adjusting for differences in age, the state had 244 deaths per 100,000 people in 2007. Minnesota had the lowest age-adjusted rate, 185 per 100,000.

#30: Lowest Cancer Death Rate

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In 2006, Virginia’s age-adjusted annual cancer death rate was 185 deaths per 100,000 people, while the national rate was 181.1. Utah had the lowest rate in the nation at 136 deaths per 100,000 people.

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