State Job Creation Programs: How Well They Work And How Much They Cost

You’ve all heard one or more corporations in your own state threaten to pack up and leave if the state doesn’t give them [insert desired bribe description here]. States also quite rightly budget money to assist in job creation, and one could reasonably expect those programs to have performance criteria. In addition, a surprising number of states, recognizing that not all jobs are created equal, require corp’s to provide minimum salaries and sometimes minimal benefits in any jobs they offer for which the state programs pay all or part. Some states even require corp’s to stay in-state for a specified minimum number of years to collect these bribes payments. All of these things vary a lot from state to state.

So… how does your state stack up? Which states are better and which are worse, in what they get for what they pay in taxpayers’ money for jobs programs?

Dean Baker of CEPR points us to a NYT article which in turn directs us to a study by Good Jobs First. The study, called “Money for Something,” ranks states according to an average of the states’ job creation programs. The average is based on three moderately intuitive criteria. Many states have more than one such program, and they’re not all equal within a state.

And the bottom line is… well, read the study’s executive summary (.pdf). It is mildly surprising that Nevada and North Carolina beat out Vermont for the top spot, though not by much. Florida was decent; it tied for 8th with Rhode Island. California was sort of the pits, with a ranking of 42nd. Texas ranked 22nd, with an average score about half that of Nevada. (!) Bringing up the rear are Wyoming, Alaska and District of Columbia. DC’s rank is so bad that you may want to think twice about ever living there.

If I could take cold weather, I think I’d move to Vermont. The combination of relative sanity in politics and highly rated state services is hard to beat. Unfortunately, my old bones chill awfully easily…

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