Put another feather in Texas' cap. The Lone Star State is number one in CNBC's annual ranking of Top States for Business in America. This marks the fourth time Texas has topped the list in the 12-year history of the rankings, but the first time since 2012. CNBC cites rising energy prices and robust job growth among the factors that pushed Texas to the top of the list, noting the state added 350,000 jobs in the past year---or roughly 1 in 7 new jobs created in the U.S. during that time.
Texas economists agree with CNBC's assessment. "When you look at job growth overall across the state, it's 3.6 percent this year to date, and the unemployment rate is near a 40-year low of 4.1 percent as of May," says Christopher Slijk, assistant economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. "Manufacturing, as well, has been very strong both last year and this year, and some of that is energy related but a lot of it is also tied to exports."
Still, the booming energy industry is the key cog in the Texas economic engine, helped by crude oil prices that have risen some 60 percent in the past year. "Having oil prices go up to 70-dollars a barrel and beyond certainly helps the state's economy, and in particular the energy industry," says Slijk.
Aside from the oil boom and strong exports, there are also built-in factors helping the Texas economic case. "Texas has an advantage in that we have a lower cost of living than the national average, and we have a friendly business climate," says Slijk.