Wisconsin was ranked the eighth worst state in the country for business, according to a Forbes report released this week.

Although the state was 43rd this year, it was still an improvement over last year when Wisconsin was ranked 48th.

Utah topped the list this year for the best states to do business, overtaking last year’s long-time leader Virginia. North Carolina, Colorado and Washington rounded out the top five.

Six “vital categories” for business were used in the rankings. The report took into account costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life in ranking states.

Cost for business – which includes labor, energy and taxes – was the category weighted most heavily in the study. Despite its low overall ranking, Wisconsin ranked 35th in this category.

However, some caution that not too much should be made of these types of rankings.

Andrew Reschovsky, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said calculating different categories can lead to completely different results.

“There are no scientific foundations for including or excluding variables, for weighing them more or less,” Reschovsky said. “Showing bias is not very hard to do.”

UW political science professor Barry Burden also agreed data can be easily manipulated, especially when there are not a lot of details on the variables being used.

He said a low business ranking is unique for Midwestern states like Wisconsin that have historically had large manufacturing and farming sectors.

“These states are in an economic transition from manufacturing or agricultural to whatever is going to be next, whether that is education, health care or high-tech,” Burden said.

Burden and Reschovsky agree that none of these numbers mean that Wisconsin dislikes business or even that taxes are high, because the study is only one interpretation of data.

Despite its low business rankings in the Forbes report, Wisconsin did achieve a high ranking in the category of “quality of life”, coming in 10th.

Additionally, Wisconsin’s low Forbes business ranking does not take into account other factors such as unemployment.

While the national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent, Wisconsin is well below this average at 7.9 percent, according to Department of Labor statistics. Utah, which the report ranked first for business, fares only slightly better with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.