RALEIGH – A report card dragged down by a “D” in education and a “D+” for quality of life drops North Carolina four spots to ninth in CNBC’s 2018 “Top States for Business” survey.

The bad grades couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Tar Heel state, which is in the midst of a recruiting battle for the Amazon HQ2 project and its 50,000 jobs as well as a planned new corporate campus and 10,000 jobs from Apple.

Already burdened by the legacy of the “bathroom bill” HB2 which inflamed personal rights advocates in 2016 and remains a sore spot despite being repealed in 2017, North Carolina took a hit on its reputation within the CNBC survey that rated states across 10 categories.

Often highly rated in business friendly surveys, the state received four “A” scores used by the NBC-owned business news network. Those were offset by the two “D”s as well as two “C”s and two “B”s.

The state improved its grade from 2017 in only one category: Overall economy, rising to sixth from 15th.

Texas rose six spots to finish at the top of the report followed by Washington (2), Utah (3), Virginia (4), California (5), Minnesota (6), Georgia (7), Massachusetts (8), North Carolina (9) and Florida (10).

Bad grades

CBNC was especially critical of North Carolina for education in which the state fell five spots from 2017 to 37th.

“A great workforce has businesses sticking with the Tar Heel State, but underfunded schools are infringing on success,” the network said.

In the criteria for the survey, CNBC said of education:

“Education and business go hand in hand. Not only do companies want to draw from an educated pool of workers, they also want to offer their employees a great place to raise a family. Higher education institutions offer companies a source to recruit new talent, as well as a partner in research and development. We consider the number of higher education institutions in each state as well as long-term trends in state support for higher education. We look at several measures of K-12 education including test scores, class size and spending, and we look at technology infrastructure in the schools. We also look at life-long learning opportunities in each state.”

North Carolina generally also scores well for “quality of life.” However, within the CNBC survey, weight is given to such factors as “anti-discrimination protections,” health insurance and the health of the population.

CNBC explains:

“One way to attract qualified workers is to offer them a great place to live. We score the states on livability including several factors, such as the crime rate, the quality of health care, the level of health-insurance coverage and the overall health of the population. We measure inclusiveness by looking at statewide anti-discrimination protections, as well as the ability of local jurisdictions to set their own standards. We evaluate local attractions, parks and recreation, as well as environmental quality.”

The scorecard

The grades for each of the 10 categories were based on data across 634 different metrics. CNBC noted that it weighted each of the 10 categories differently with scores in each determining the states’ overall rankings. Giving the most weight in scoring were workforce, infrastructure and cost of doing business.

In those, North Carolina received :

  • A- for workforce, good for No. 9 nationally but down two places from 2017
  • C+ for infrastructure, good for 21st nationally – a drop from No. 20 in 2017
  • A- for cost of doing business, good for 16th nationally but a drop of seven spots from 2017

In the other seven categories, North Carolina’s grades were:

  • A for economy, good for No. 6 nationally, up nine spots from 2017
  • D+ for quality of life, good for 28th which matched 2017’s score
  • B+ for technology and innovation, down from 6th in 2017
  • D for education, good for 37th nationally, a drop of five spots from 2017
  • C+ for business friendliness, good for 23rd nationally, a drop of 15 spots from 2017
  • A- for access to capital, good for ninth nationally which matched the 2017 score
  • B for cost of living, good for 18th nationally, a drop of one spot from 2017

Read more about the CNBC report online.