N.J. ranking drops in annual survey of U.S. CEOs

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    The good news is New Jersey wasn't dead last this year in Chief Executive magazine's Best & Worst States survey.

    The bad news is, it's heading in that direction.

    In the survey, released Tuesday, the Garden State came in 46th, one spot lower than its No. 45 ranking of 2012.

    The survey measures the sentiments of 736 CEOs from across the country on issues such as regulations, tax policies, work force quality, educational resources, quality of life and infrastructure.

    "There are areas we are working on in partnership with the governor and the Legislature to change some of the onerous taxes and regulations that put New Jersey down in the rankings," said Michael Egenton, senior vice president of government relations for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

    Texas was the victor in the survey for the ninth year in a row, and California came in dead last. CEOs say California's poor ranking is the result of a perceived hostility to business, high state taxes and onerous regulations, all of which drive investment, companies and jobs to other states.

    This year, Ohio showed the most improvement, rising 13 spots to No. 22. The biggest drop was seen by Delaware, which dropped 13 spots, to 27.

    "The playbook for successful states boils down to three simple moves: engage in real dialogue with business leaders, adapt policies to create an attractive environment, and effectively communicate your story to real job creators," said Marshall Cooper, CEO of Chief Executive magazine and ChiefExecutive.net, in prepared remarks. "This year's rankings prove that smart policies result in increased investments, jobs and greater overall economic activity."

    New Jersey garnered three out of five stars in the category of work force quality, two-and-a-half stars for living environment and one-and-a-half stars for taxations and regulations. Its 9.5 percent unemployment rate is 1.7 percentage points higher than the national average, and the Garden State ranks 47th in domestic migration.

    "We have a dynamic, highly qualified work force," Egenton said. "The governor has proposed a reduction in income tax, and pension benefit reform is still on the table. A lot of these efforts take time to implement and kick into gear, but there is a lot of optimism in the business community."

    For complete results, visit www.chiefexecutive.net.

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