Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Texas loses ground in latest CNBC ranking of top states for business

Falling oil prices have “stunted” the Texas economy, according to a CNBC study.
Falling oil prices have “stunted” the Texas economy, according to a CNBC study.

So, is the Texas Miracle over?

For years, state lawmakers and others bragged about how the state was THE place to do business. But now, according to a new ranking from CNBC, the bloom may be off the yellow rose of Texas.

For the first time since the business network launched the study 11 years ago, Texas finished outside the top two spots in its annual America’s Top States for Business Rankings. The Lone Star State ranked fourth this year, scoring 1,602 out of 2,500 possible points.

Washington finished No. 1, Georgia was second and Minnesota third.

Falling oil prices are partially to blame for the Texas slip — while the economy has diversified, the energy sector still plays a larger-than-life role — as unemployment rose above the national average. As a result, the state dropped in the economy category from No. 1 to 25, the study shows.

Texas ranked 37th in quality of life — a measure of such things as crime rates, inclusiveness and anti-discrimination protections, reflecting efforts to enact a so-called bathroom bill. It also ranked 34th in education, a measure of test scores, class size and spending.

Don’t worry too much, though. Texas remains a “juggernaut,” the network said. The state got No. 1 rankings in areas such as infrastructure and workforce, which measures the number of available employees and the state’s demonstrated ability to retain college-educated workers.

It also ranked in the top 10 for access to capital and cost of living.

Fidelity trims its workforce

Fidelity Investments has been shedding hundreds of jobs in recent weeks, but the cutbacks don’t appear to have had a significant impact at its big regional campus in Westlake.

In fact, the mutual fund giant now has more employees in Texas than in Massachusetts.

The Boston-based mutual fund laid off several hundred workers last week on the heels of its first voluntary buyout program ever. The layoffs reportedly accounted for less than 1 percent of its 45,000-person workforce. Meanwhile, more than more than 1,500 employees left the company through buyouts, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

Fidelity spokesman Adam Banker said the company does not generally comment on hirings and firings and declined to specify the number of employees in Texas who took the buyout or were laid off. He said that no single region in the country had more than 6 percent of its employees participate in the buyout.

He also disputed reports that the cutbacks reflect strains on the company’s business from investors shifting away from its managed mutual funds into low-cost index or exchange-traded funds.

“We are a very healthy company that continues to grow, and our record 2016 earnings underscore this fact,” Banker said in an email. He said Fidelity is recruiting for hundreds of open positions nationwide.

Fidelity opened its picturesque Westlake campus in 2001 and Texas is the biggest of its 10 regional operations, with about 6,000 employees. During a 2013 campus visit, officials said it had about 4,500 employees.

Set back off Texas 114 in a wooded area of the former Circle T Ranch, the Fidelity campus has workers in various areas including corporate technology, asset management, fund accounting, corporate finance, legal and audit. Hundreds more answer calls around the clock from investors.

That corner of Tarrant County is becoming something of a financial services hub.

Just west of Fidelity, Charles Schwab Corp. is preparing to begin work on a $100 million regional campus with more than 500,000 square feet of space at the intersection of Texas 114 and Texas 170. Infrastructure work has begun and preliminary site work, such as access roads and fencing, should start in the next few weeks. The company already has 280 workers in place in a leased building nearby, and the campus is expected to employ at least 1,200.

Also, Deloitte has a large corporate training center in Westlake. And in Southlake, TD Ameritrade is building a new 350,000-square-foot campus.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko