North Carolina is the only state to rank among the top five on Forbes’ Best States for Business for 12 straight years and has now reached the top spot. An improved employment outlook and the second lowest business costs (labor, energy and taxes) drove North Carolina to the top of the annual list, first published in 2006. North Carolina’s advantages for business are low business costs, incentives and a young, educated workforce, many of whom have been trained at the strong universities. North Carolina has the smallest union workforce in the U.S. in terms of percent of total employment, which results in labor costs that are 10% below the national average and fifth lowest in the country. Forbes assesses states across six broad categories: business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life to create the list. North Carolina is the only state to rank among the top 20 states in all six categories.