Why the best states for business may be the worst for workers

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Businesses aren’t afraid to pick up and move.

Many states offer businesses attractive incentives such as tax cuts if they move, but a better business climate doesn’t always equal a better work climate.

“Things that benefit employers in terms of bottom line or margin, in terms of economic expansion, can directly conflict with things that benefit actual employees, residents and workers,” said Niani Tolbert, Founder and CEO of Hire Black Now, an organization that merges recruiting and talent development to improve the upward mobility of black women in the American workforce.

Many states offering the most attractive business incentives have also adopted controversial social policies that some businesses and the general public have pushed back against. These issues include LGBTQ restrictions, limiting access to voting, restrictions on abortion, and preventing schools and employers from conducting diversity and inclusion training.

Anti-poverty organization Oxfam America’s annual Best States to Work Index analyzes which states have the best policies to protect workers.

Oxfam America ranked North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina as the worst states for workers in 2021.

“Every year the worst states to work in are in the South, almost always. And in 2021, it was no different, said Kaitlyn Henderson, senior researcher at Oxfam America.

A partisan divide has formed around labor policies. Democrats are more likely to adopt the kinds of policies followed by Oxfam America in its best states to work for, such as higher minimum wages, workplace pregnancy accommodations, and policies that protect the right to unionize. .

But the states that have the best policies for workers, according to Oxfam America’s analysis, also tend to be the states with the highest cost of living.

Oxfam America ranked Oregon, New York, Massachusetts and California among the best states for workers’ rights, but CNBC’s 2022 Best States for Business Index found that those states also had one of the highest cost of living in the country.

“There are a number of things that workers are looking for when considering different job opportunities that companies need to consider when recruiting talent for jobs,” said Rachel Lipson, director of the Project on Workforce at Harvard University. “We are still in a very tight labor market where workers still have a lot of power and the ability to be picky.”

Watch the video above to learn which states are the worst for workers and how companies in those states can attract top talent.

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