For the third straight year, Utah ranked No. 1, while Washington slipped from seventh to 11th.
The trend is particularly worrisome because of the way Utah is winning the contest: It's luring aerospace companies -- including Boeing and Sedro-Woolley-based Janicki Industries -- to build new manufacturing plants.
All but one of the top 10 states in the Forbes ranking are right-to-work states, Brunell notes. And Washington is unlikely to become a right-to-work state.
But if the state is going to compete with states like Utah, lawmakers need to level the playing field by reducing Washington's regulatory burden.
"Competition for Washington's aerospace jobs will only intensify in the future," Brunell writes. "So state lawmakers shouldn't assume that, just because companies like Boeing and Janicki are here now, they will be here forever."