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Career & Workplace

Execs discuss why Mass. ranks 49th in cost of doing business

By Meera Raman – Reporter, Boston Business Journal

Massachusetts remained in the second-lowest spot in the country for the cost of doing business, a ranking the state held in 2022 as well.

Massachusetts High Tech Council board chairman John Lee was joined by CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn in a webinar on Tuesday to discuss the CNBC’s annual “Top States for Business Rankings” and what the results mean for running a business in the Bay State.

Lee, who is also the CEO of MKS Instruments in Andover, spoke with Cohn about Massachusetts’ nine-spot climb from last year, securing the 15th position overall in the most recent rankings, as well as the state’s dismally low ranking of 49th in the U.S. when it comes to the cost of doing business.

Massachusetts held the second-lowest spot in the nation for the cost of doing business in 2022 as well, the CNBC study showed.

“The cost of doing business ranking really stood out for me, [as I] run a company headquartered and founded in Massachusetts,” said Lee.

Overall, Massachusetts ranked fairly high for doing business overall, mostly thanks to its first-place ranking in technology and innovation, tied with California, and its third-place ranking for education, which slipped from first place in 2022.

While the state was rated relatively strong for incentives and in the middle of the pack for targeted development zones, there were too many other factors that pushed the state to the 49th spot. 

Massachusetts pays the highest wages in the country, which may be great for workers, but it’s a challenge for companies looking to save on business costs. The report shows that office rent and industrial rates are among the highest in the country, and utilities are the fourth highest in the country. Additionally, the Tax Foundation puts Massachusetts in the bottom ten for tax competitiveness. 

The Bay State also ranked 47th for cost of living. These rankings indicate challenges for the state to become more cost-competitive and affordable for business and residents alike, said CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn.

Massachusetts employer confidence has been hovering around pessimistic territory for months, and fell to that level in May for the first time since 2020. However, in July, the confidence rebounded into optimistic territory.