High costs and a sluggish economy are the key factors behind Connecticut's slide in CNBC's latest annual America's Top States for Business rankings.

Connecticut fell to 37th, a year after climbing 10 spots to 33rd in the cable network's annual competitiveness ratings, with declines in a number of critical areas.

CNBC Top States for Business 2018CNBC ranked the state in the bottom 10 in four key categories—infrastructure (47th), cost of doing business (46th), economy (45th), and cost of living (43rd).

The state also declined in two traditional areas of strength, falling from seventh to 16th for workforce and from third to ninth in education.

CNBC scores all 50 states on 64 economic competitiveness measures, separating those metrics into 10 weighted categories. Workforce is the most heavily weighted category, followed by infrastructure, cost of doing business, economy, and quality of life.

Connecticut ranked 22nd in quality of life (up one place from last year), 17th for technology and innovation (down four spots), 26th for business friendliness (up from 32nd), and 18th for access to capital (a two-spot improvement).

State's Strengths 'Undermined'

Brennan said the state economy's poor rank was the "most troubling" part of the CNBC study, as that "really measures Connecticut's competitiveness across all categories," calling the declines in education and workforce "a stark reflection of that."

"Our competitive strengths are being undermined by our inability to comprehensively address the state's significant fiscal challenges," Brennan said.

"The gap between Connecticut and successful states is growing wider because we don't have adequate resources to invest in education, transportation, and workforce development.

This year's elections are an opportunity for voters to demand the critical changes Connecticut needs to turn things around.
— CBIA's Joe Brennan
"Education and workforce development demand attention, particularly given the rapidly growing need for skilled workers in the aerospace and defense manufacturing sectors."

A state government report released earlier this month said Connecticut economy is at the same level it was in 2004, the only state where economic growth has contracted since the recession ended in 2010.

GDP growth has shrunk in four of the last five years, while the state has recovered just 81% of the 119,100 jobs lost in the recession.

Election Issue

Brennan said this year's elections for all General Assembly seats and statewide offices represents an opportunity for voters to "demand the critical changes Connecticut needs to turn things around."

"How do we fix our economy? How do we make Connecticut more affordable and keep companies, families, and jobs here?" he asked.

"It starts with making the tough, necessary decisions to resolve our fiscal problems and get businesses investing in Connecticut, creating jobs, and growing our economy."

At 8th overall, Massachusetts was the best of the New England states in this year's study, ranked first for education and workforce and in the top 10 for access to capital and technology and innovation.

New Hampshire dropped six spots to 24th, Vermont rose three places to 32nd, and Rhode Island and Maine tied for 45th, both essentially unchanged from last year.

CNBC ranked Texas first this year, up from fourth in 2017, rated first for economy and infrastructure, with top 10 rankings for workforce, technology and innovation, and access to capital.

Top, Bottom States

CNBC's 2018 top five states for business:

  1. Texas (2017: 4th)
  2. Washington (2nd)
  3. Utah (8th)
  4. Virginia (7th)
  5. Colorado (6th)

And the bottom five:

45 (tie). Maine (46th)

45 (tie). Rhode Island (45th)

47. Hawaii (49th)

48. West Virginia (50th)

49. Mississippi (48th)

50. Alaska (47th)