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Rhode Island ranks No. 45 in CNBC’s 2022 Top States for Business list

Massachusetts ranked No. 24 overall, but earned an “F” for the cost of doing business and the cost of living

The Industrial National Bank Building, also known as the Superman Building, in downtown Providence.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island has once again ranked at the bottom in CNBC’s Top States for Business rankings this year.

In spite of Governor Dan McKee’s small-business focus, Rhode Island only moved up one place in this year’s ranking, which came out Wednesday. In 2021, it ranked No. 46.

In 2022, the Ocean State improved in only one category: access to capital. The state’s performance declined in all other categories.

Rhode Island again received an “F” for infrastructure and the cost of living. CNBC’s Scott Cohn said Rhode Island was the ninth most-expensive state in which to live as inflation keeps rising. It received “D-” to “D+” grades for categories related workforce, the cost of doing business, the economy, technology and innovation, and business friendliness.


The state received “C-” to “C+” rankings for categories related to access to capital, education, and life, health and inclusion. Rhode Island did not receive a “B” or “A” grade for any category in the ranking.

The bottom tier for business among CNBC’s rankings is familiar territory. In 2019, Rhode Island ranked last for the fifth time. The state has never moved higher than No. 45, which was the ranking it achieved in 2017, 2018, and this year.

Cohn pointed to how Rhode Island gets a greater percentage of its power from natural gas than any other state.

“With prices up 60 percent last year and doubling so far this year, that is not a good spot to be in,” Cohn wrote in his analysis of CNBC’s rankings. “Heating oil prices are also up sharply, dealing a blow to much of the Northeast.

“Your annual energy bill in Providence is nearly twice what they are paying in Yakima, Washington,” he wrote.

National Grid worker Jesus Garcia checks on the valves in an underground gas substation on Broadway Street in 2019.John Tlumacki

The average home price in the Providence-Warwick area is about $436,045 as of May, and a monthly energy bill is about $251.32.


Matt Sheaff, a spokesman for McKee, said while the governor’s office won’t “over-index” on any one ranking, the news that Rhode Island “continues to improve is welcome.”

“For the first time in recent memory, Rhode Island has momentum coming out of an economic downturn,” said Sheaff. “Our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in over 30 years and our state is currently ranked second in the country and first in the Northeast for economic recovery based on Moody’s evaluation of 37 key national and state economic indicators.”

Massachusetts ranked No. 24 by CNBC overall, slipping from their No. 14 spot last year. The state earned an “F” for categories related to the cost of doing business and the cost of living. It was the fourth most-expensive state to live in, behind California (No. 3), New York (No. 2), and Hawaii (No. 1).

Of the remaining New England states, Vermont ranked No. 31, New Hampshire No. 35, Connecticut No. 39, and Maine No. 43.

North Carolina was the top-ranked state for doing business, followed by Washington, Virginia, Colorado, and Texas.

CNBC’s business rankings, which is now in its 15th year, evaluates states using 88 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness, according to its methodology. States can earn a maximum of 2,500 points across those 10 categories, which are weighted.

This year, workforce carried the most weight among the categories, followed by infrastructure and the cost of doing business.


“With employers desperately seeking workers to fill more than 11 million job openings nationwide, it should come as little surprise that workforce carries the most weight in this year’s rankings,” wrote Cohn. “The massive effort to rebuild the domestic supply chain helps push Infrastructure to the second position, while worries about inflation move cost of doing business into third place.”

The ranking added child-care resources for employees balancing work and family as a new metric this year.

This article has been updated to include comments from the Governor’s office.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.