The Commonwealth of Virginia recently ranked #1 in the country for business. Coincidentally, Virginia also ranks #51 out of 50 states (plus Washington, DC) in a list of the best states for workers.
In CNBC’s latest rankings of best states for business, Virginia came out on top. CNBC liked Virginia’s workforce, ranking it #1 in the country based on the number of available college-educated workers for hire — particularly in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field — as well as in its diverse economy, and quality of infrastructure.
The most important metric in CNBC’s best-for-business criteria is workforce, meaning Virginia (which is home to multiple federal agencies) likely has some of the most educated workers in the country. This is most striking when considering the fact that Oxfam America ranked Virginia dead last in its list of best states for workers in 2018. Virginia even ranked behind states with notoriously anti-worker policies, like Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.
“Virginia is ranked last in the nation in worker rights and protections. It falls behind the nation in ensuring better compensation and conditions in the workplace – policies related to higher state incomes and a variety of other desirable indicators. By passing legislation improving the treatment of workers, Virginia can begin to better its regional standing.” Oxfam America wrote in its report.
In Oxfam’s interactive map showing the criteria for how each state was ranked in how it treated workers, Virginia ranked #51 in wage policy (whether or not a state has enacted any wage laws that lift the minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25/hour), and #48 in worker protections (laws on the books protecting workers from harassment, abuse, and discrimination by their employers). The commonwealth also ranked #49 in right to organize (whether or not workers are allowed to form a union to collectively bargain for wages and benefits).
As Grit Post has previously reported, Virginia was all too eager to give Amazon — which surpassed the $1 trillion mark in market cap — $750 million in tax breaks after just nine minutes of debate in the House of Delegates. Virginia granted the tax break despite Amazon backing down from plans to build in New York City, given the amount of local pushback over how a new Amazon headquarters would significantly raise rents and costs of living for residents.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.