Why the best states for business may be the worst for workers

Why the best states for business may be the worst for workers

Businesses aren’t afraid to pick up and move.

Many states offer businesses attractive incentives such as tax cuts if they move, but a better business climate doesn’t always equal a better work climate.

“Things that benefit employers in terms of bottom line or margin, in terms of economic expansion, can directly conflict with things that benefit actual employees, residents and workers,” said Niani Tolbert, Founder and CEO of Hire Black Now, an organization that merges recruiting and talent development to improve the upward mobility of black women in the American workforce.

Many states offering the most attractive business incentives have also adopted controversial social policies that some companies and the general public have pushed back. These problems include LGBTQ Restrictions, limit access to vote, abortion restrictions and prevent schools and employers from organize training on diversity and inclusion.

Annual of the anti-poverty organization Oxfam America Index of the best states to work analyzes which states have the best policies to protect workers.

Oxfam America ranked North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina as the worst states for workers in 2021.

“Every year the worst states to work in are in the South, almost always. And in 2021, it was no different,” said Kaitlyn Henderson, senior researcher at Oxfam America.

A partisan divide has formed over labor policies. Democrats are more likely to pass the types of policies that Oxfam America follows in its best states to work, such as higher minimum wages, pregnancy accommodations in the workplace, and policies that protect the right to unionize.

But the states that have the best policies for workers, according to Oxfam America’s analysis, also tend to be the states with the highest cost of living.

Oxfam America has ranked Oregon, New York, Massachusetts and California among the best states for workers’ rights, but CNBC’s 2022 Best States for Business Index found that these states also had the highest cost of living in the country.

“There are a number of things that workers are looking for when considering different job opportunities that companies need to consider when recruiting talent for jobs,” said Rachel Lipson, director of the Project on Workforce at Harvard University. “We are still in a very tight labor market where workers still have a lot of power and the ability to be picky.”

Watch the video above to learn which states are the worst for workers and how companies in those states can attract top talent.


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