(781) 786-2662

Assessing State Competitiveness: A Discussion with CNBC's Scott Cohn on Massachusetts' Business & Economic Climate

📅 Wednesday, September 28, 2022

🕛 12:00 – 1:00 pm et

📍   Zoom

Watch the Webinar

Policy SeriesAssessing State Competitiveness: A Discussion with CNBC's Scott Cohn on Massachusetts' Business & Economic Climate

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott CohnOn Wednesday, September 28, CNBC Special Correspondent Scott Cohn joined the Massachusetts High Technology Council (MHTC) for Assessing State Competitiveness: A Discussion with CNBC’s Scott Cohn on Massachusetts’ Business & Economic Climate, a virtual discussion focused on Massachusetts’ current business and economic competitiveness. Cohn, the creator of CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business, the widely cited ranking that scores all 50 states on over 85 measures, provided insights into how Massachusetts fared in the 2022 rankings and explored key factors influencing the direction in which the Commonwealth is trending relative to other states. 

Cohn’s presentation followed an overview of Massachusetts Technology, Talent and Economic Reporting System (MATTERS™) data showing Massachusetts’ competitive standing on talent, tax environment, and other factors.

Originally built in 2015 with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MHTC created MATTERS to provide private sector employers, public officials, and advocates with dynamic data to inform public policy decisions that help attract and retain businesses to the state. In February 2022, the platform was updated and relaunched with new data sources, visualization capabilities, and improved analytics.

Two central features of MATTERS:


50-State Competitiveness Dashboard

Measures and evaluates Massachusetts’ competitive position on a range of indicators to capture key characteristics related to economic competitiveness and the business environment.


Technology Workforce Dashboard

Dynamic occupational and industry data to understand Massachusetts’ technology workforce and its economic imprint.

MATTERS Key Facts & Figures

Where We Are Competitive:

Massachusetts is among the top states for talent/workforce in innovation industries

🎓 1st (45.1%) bachelor’s degree holders as % of the workforce (highest across all states)

👩‍💻 1st (8.4%) employment by % of residents employed in high-tech firms

📜 6th (20.5%) science & engineering degrees as % of all degrees conferred

Massachusetts technology industry job concentration is ranked #1 in the nation

💻 1.8x the U.S. national average (#1 in the nation)

👨‍💻 ~215,700 core technology jobs (5.4% of all occupations)

💼 ~350,500 total technology industry jobs (8.5% of all industry employment)

Massachusetts’ growth and innovation climate ranks #2 overall—largely due to robust funding for research and new ventures

💰 3rd ($35.5B) total venture capital investment

💵 3rd ($3.3M) National Institute of Health (NIH) award funding

Strong innovation conditions reflected in commercial discoveries in science/technology and rate of business formation

🔬 5th (8,225) patents awarded per 1,000 individuals in science and engineering occupations

📈 13th (12.1%) rate of new employer business payroll actualization (within 8 quarters)

Where We Face Challenges:

Massachusetts’ technology industry faces a significant talent supply shortage

💼 ~35,400 average monthly technology job openings

👩‍💼 ~6,000 average monthly technology job hires

Diverse candidates are underrepresented across many technology occupations

📊 5.1% Black/African American representation across top 30 technology occupations (compared to 9.4% of population)

📇 75.0% white representation across top 30 technology occupations

Massachusetts is among the most expensive states in the cost of doing business index

💸 3rd ($86.7K) highest labor costs nationwide (measured by median income)

⚕️ 6th ($16.2K) highest average family healthcare premium

📈 5th (3.4%) highest unemployment insurance tax rates (as % of taxable wages)

Massachusetts ranks 40th of all states in the index measuring states’ relative tax burden

💰 Tax Environment – 5% personal tax rate puts us in the middle of the pack (26th highest), but corporate tax rate (12th highest) and local tax burden rank (14th highest) hurt competitiveness with other states. Property taxes, as a share of owner-occupied property value, are also highest among our technology state peers

Quality of Life Measures Show a Complex Picture
of Strengths & Challenges:

Massachusetts’ education and healthcare quality lead the country

🏫 #1 in 4th and 8th grade math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ (NAEP) Report Card

🚑 #2 overall healthcare quality (based on composite measures)

Massachusetts ranks 40th of all states in the index measuring states’ relative tax burden

💰 Tax Environment – 5% personal tax rate puts us in the middle of the pack (26th highest), but corporate tax rate (12th highest) and local tax burden rank (14th highest) hurt competitiveness with other states. Property taxes, as a share of owner-occupied property value, are also highest among our technology state peers

Highlights from CNBC’s Scott Cohn’s Remarks

Since 2007, CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business has been an invaluable resource for states to gauge their competitiveness across different categories. The rankings are drawn on 88 metrics to measure states’ performance in ten categories, illuminating areas where states show relative strengths and areas for improvement.

While Massachusetts slipped from 13th to the 24th spot, North Carolina came in as the #1 state to do business in the 2022 ranking.

What Makes a State Attractive to do Business in?

Utilizing performance data over opinion and keeping track of what state attributes are most frequently mentioned in aggregate allow CNBC to remain objective in evaluating state performance. The 2022 rankings include new metrics reflecting the import of new industries, such as cryptocurrency, and resources for childcare given the salience of this topic in discussions on remote and hybrid work policies, among others:

👩‍🏫 Career Education

🏗️ Development Sites

👶 Childcare

📈 Emerging Industries

🍁 Cannabis

💸 Cryptocurrency & Mining

Massachusetts Competitiveness

In the 2022 rankings, Massachusetts is 24th overall—a notable drop from 13th in the 2021 rankings. Over the fifteen years of the Top States for Business publication, the Commonwealth’s standing has fluctuated considerably. The highest-ranking Massachusetts achieved was in 2010 when the Commonwealth was ranked 10th overall. Relative to other states in New England, Massachusetts is a regional standout for 2022.

Massachusetts was among five states whose ranking dropped by double digits (the others being MD, NY, CT, and NJ). Though the Commonwealth experienced notable drops in Life, Health & Inclusion (8th in 2021 to 13th in 2022), Technology & Innovation (3rd in 2021 to 10th in 2022), and Workforce (9th in 2021 to 21st in 2022), the Bay State showed improvement in Business Friendliness, jumping from 32nd in 2021 to 21st in 2022.


Massachusetts’ Performance in CNBC’s Top States for Business Rankings, 2021-22

Access to Capital66
Business Friendliness3221
Cost of Doing Business4949
Cost of Living4647
Life, Health, & Technology813
Technology & Innovation210

Massachusetts Strengths

🎓 Top State for Education

💰 #6 for Access to Capital

💻 #10 for Technology and Innovation

Massachusetts Weaknesses

💸 #49 for Cost of Doing Business

🏡 #47 for Cost of Living

🚉 #31 for Infrastructure

Key Takeaways

MHTC Co-chair John T.C. Lee, Ph.D., President and CEO of MKS Instruments, and Director Jane Steinmetz, Managing Principal of EY’s Boston Office, joined Cohn for a panel discussion exploring areas where Massachusetts is well-positioned to lead in the future and areas that are cause for concern amidst growing outmigration from the Commonwealth and concerns about business exodus. 

Panelists shared perspectives on salient factors for employers in the post-COVID environment, the unique strengths of Massachusetts’ workforce, the importance of affordability and quality of life to attract talent, and the threat of uncompetitive tax policies and other lowering barriers to exit for businesses.

Among the panel’s takeaways were:

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

Massachusetts cost of doing business and cost of living hold it back due to:

  • Having the Nation’s Highest Wages
  • High Utility Costs
  • High Office, Industrial Rents
  • Tough Tax Climate
  • Aging Infrastructure
Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

In addition to reforming uncompetitive tax policies, to remain competitive, public leaders in Massachusetts should focus on improving its quality of life as it relates to transportation, housing, and energy costs—all elements that are central to being an innovation hub for the next big industries that are now just emerging

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

A strong workforce is a critical indicator of a state’s success related to demographics, inclusion, and remote work

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

Success in key sectors of the Massachusetts technology economy is largely attributable to the Commonwealth’s universities, community colleges, and strong investments and incentives in education

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

To compete with states like Florida and Texas, Massachusetts should capitalize on its strengths relative to other states, like Life, Health, & Inclusion

Watch the Webinar

Featured Speakers

Assessing State Competitiveness: A Discussion with CNBC's Scott Cohn on Massachusetts' Business and Economic Climate

Scott Cohn

Special Correspondent

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn Assessing State Competitiveness: A Discussion with CNBC's Scott Cohn on Massachusetts' Business and Economic Climate

Scott Cohn develops in-depth features and special reports for CNBC and CNBC.com, including the influential annual series “America’s Top States for Business,” which he created in 2007.

He also covers breaking news for CNBC and NBC News, and he is a contributor to the popular public radio program Marketplace. A sought-after public speaker and the owner of a Northern California-based production company, Cohn serves as a consultant to national media organizations, and is a producer and special correspondent for the true financial crime series “American Greed.”

Cohn assumed his current role after more than 25 years as a CNBC reporter. He helped launch CNBC in 1989, eventually rising to Senior Correspondent. He established the CNBC Chicago bureau as well as the network’s investigative unit. Along the way, he reported on many of the most important business and financial stories in CNBC’s first quarter century. They include the Enron and WorldCom scandals, the technology bubble, the 2008 financial crisis, and the human and economic devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He has traveled to all 50 states, reported from more than a dozen countries, and interviewed the famous and infamous, from Warren Buffett to Bernie Madoff.

Cohn is a three-time national Emmy nominee—all for investigative reporting—as well as a two-time CableACE nominee.

He has reported some of CNBC’s most acclaimed documentaries, including “Billions Behind Bars: Inside America’s Prison Industry,” which received a 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). His groundbreaking documentary, “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation,” received a 2011 Gerald Loeb Award—the highest honor in business journalism—as well as top honors from IRE, the national organization of Investigative Reporters and Editors. The program helped lead America’s oldest gun manufacturer to agree to replace millions of allegedly defective triggers on its most popular rifle.

Before joining CNBC, Cohn was an anchor and reporter for ABC affiliate WZZM in Grand Rapids, Mich. He has also worked as an anchor and reporter for NBC affiliate WEAU in Eau Claire, Wis., and for Wisconsin Public Radio and Television. A native of Chicago, Cohn holds a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, where he currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the School of Journalism. He was also a founding board member of the Center for Journalism Ethics. In 2005, the University honored him with its annual award for Distinguished Service to Journalism.

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn - John TC Lee, President & CEO of MKS Instruments

John T.C. Lee, Ph.D.

President & CEOCompetitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn MKS Instruments Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

John T.C. Lee, Ph.D. has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of MKS Instruments, Inc. since January 2020.

Prior to that, Dr. Lee was their President and Chief Operating Officer from May 2018 to December 2019, and their Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from November 2016 to May 2018. Upon joining MKS in 2007 through October 2016, he served in leadership roles managing various business units, culminating to Senior Vice President of Business Units. 

Prior to joining MKS, Dr. Lee served as the Managing Director of Factory Technology and Projects within the Solar Business Group at Applied Materials, Inc., from February 2007 until October 2007. From 2002 until 2007, he served as General Manager of the Cleans Product Group and the Maydan Technology Center for Applied Materials. Prior to Applied Materials, Dr. Lee served from 1997 until 2002 as Research Director of the Silicon Fabrication Research Department at Lucent Technologies, Inc., a voice, data, and video communications provider. From 1991 until 1997, he was a Member of the Technical Staff in the Plasma Processing Research Group within Bell Labs. 

He currently serves on the MKS Board of Directors (since 2020) and as Vice Chair and a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts High Technology Council (since 2021). Dr. Lee was appointed a Director of Cognex, a leader in machine vision systems, software, and sensors on May 4, 2022, and serves on the Audit and Compensation Committees. Dr. Lee holds a BS from Princeton University and both an MSCEP and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Chemical Engineering.

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn - Jane Steinmetz, Managing Principal of EY’s Boston Office

Jane Steinmetz

Managing Principal of EY’s Boston Office

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn

Jane Steinmetz is a business leader within EY who brings over 25 years of experience serving Fortune 100 clients, leading high-performing teams, and advocating for change.

In her role as Office Managing Principal of the EY Boston office, Jane is responsible for overall client service, market growth and internal management of the Boston office, in which there are over 2,300 assurance, tax, transaction and consulting professionals.

As a managing principal and business leader, she is connected to top leadership and uses her experience to guide strategic, client service and operational recommendations.

Throughout her career, Jane has been a tax professional who has consulted with a diverse array of taxpayers on state tax matters. In her resident state of Massachusetts, she works closely with the business community, Department of Revenue, Legislature and Governor’s Administration on tax policy. Her consultation has involved high profile controversy matters, nexus considerations, large scale compliance functions, apportionment nuances, and driving legislative state tax changes of critical importance for some of the firm’s largest clients both nationally and across the globe.

Prior to her current role, Jane served as the New England Market Leader for Financial Services and has led the national Financial Services state and local tax practice for EY, managing a team across the US, London, and India.

Jane is skilled in bringing the full power of the EY multidisciplinary practice to assist our clients across a spectrum of areas, including transaction support, supply chain, tax, legal, finance, talent, diversity, and inclusion.

Jane is also active in giving back to the community, pursuing her passion to personally make a difference in youth mentoring, women advancement, and equality for all. She is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, United Way, and the National Association of Corporate Directors – New England chapter. She serves on the executive committee of the Massachusetts High Tech Council, Massachusetts Business Roundtable and on the Boston Club corporate advisory board. She currently serves as the chairwoman of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation. She also engages with numerous local charitable organizations including NVNA Hospital, International Institute of New England, Northeast Arc and Strong Women Strong Girls.

For her professional and personal accomplishments, Jane has been named to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 and Women Who Mean Business. She was also a 2020 Boston Chamber Pinnacle Award recipient, a Massachusetts Society of CPAs 2018 Women to Watch honoree, and Girls’ LEAP Honoree of the Year.

Jane started her career at PwC and joined EY in 2011. She received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Rhode Island College and her J.D. and LL.M. in Taxation from Boston University School of Law. She is a member of the Massachusetts and Connecticut bar associations.
Jane resides in Cohasset, Massachusetts with her husband of 25 years, four children and two Newfoundlands.

Competitiveness with CNBC's Scott Cohn Chris Anderson Massachusetts High Technology Council

Chris Anderson


Massachusetts High Technology Council

Christopher R. Anderson is president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, Inc. Before becoming president in January 2001, he served as vice president and general counsel for the Council.

He joined the Council in 1984 and is responsible to the Board of Directors for the successful development and implementation of public policy programs and initiatives in Massachusetts and in Washington, D.C. that help make Massachusetts the world’s most attractive place to create, operate, and expand technology businesses.

Mr. Anderson is directly involved in resolving conflicts and advocating positions on a broad range of state and federal public policy, legislative and regulatory issues. Those issues include tax and fiscal policy, energy, education, workforce training, environment, and health care.

In January 2006, Mr. Anderson was appointed to serve as a member of the state Board of Education (BOE), the nine-member panel that oversees state K-12 education policy. From November 2006 through August 2007, he served as Chairman of the BOE, an appointment designated by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

In December 2003, he became president of the Massachusetts Defense Technology Initiative, a public-private partnership that led the Commonwealth’s successful efforts to preserve Hanscom Air Force Base
and Natick Soldier Systems Center through the U.S. Defense Department’s 2005 Base Closing process.

In January 2009, Mr. Anderson was named to the Hanscom Air Force Base Honorary Commander program, which is designed to create deeper ties between the Air Force and the New England region and to increase public understanding of the Hanscom AFB and Air Force missions. The honorary
commander program pairs community leaders with center and wing leaders to forge relationships and uses creative, unique activities to immerse honorary commanders into the wings; Mr. Anderson will serve as the honorary commander for Hanscom’s 653rd Electronic Systems Wing until 2011.

Mr. Anderson graduated from Lexington High School in Lexington, MA. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Notre Dame, and a law degree from Suffolk University School of Law.

Chris Anderson Massachusetts High Technology Council 2022 Annual Meeting Speaker

Matt Blackbourn

Director of Policy & Research

Massachusetts High Technology Council

Matt Blackbourn is the Council’s Director of Policy and Research.

His role is managing various public policy and research initiatives for the organization, including leading development of competitiveness and talent development programs and tools and engagement with elected officials and various stakeholders to advance the Council’s policy agenda.

Before coming to the Council, Matt was Policy Director at the Boston Municipal Research Bureau where he managed the organization’s public partnerships and led the research team in producing analysis on municipal finance, education, transportation, and city management. Prior to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, he worked at Harvard Business School’s education technology initiative where he partnered with faculty in developing cases and managed content and design work for online courses. He started his career at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research working on policy issues in public finance, transportation, and economic development.

Outside of his work at the Council, Matt enjoys volunteering for local human services nonprofits and mentoring through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts program.

Matt received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Tulane University, where he graduated summa cum laude