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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Rhode Island maintained the status quo in the latest CNBC ranking of how friendly the 50 states are to business.

The TV network ranked Rhode Island 45th out of 50 on its 2018 Top States for Business list, which was released Tuesday. The state was tied with Maine. Rhode Island was also 45th in 2017, its highest showing to date at the time, after ranking last in 2016, 2014 and 2012.

Among the categories examined by CNBC, Rhode Island was once again held back most by its poor infrastructure, which ranked worst in the nation. The state was also again ranked near the bottom in three of the list's other 10 categories: Access to Capital, Cost of Doing Business, and Cost of Living.

“In Maine the issue is its workforce, one of the least productive workforces in the country, based on economic output per job,” CNBC’s Scott Cohn wrote in an analysis of the list. “Rhode Island has been working on its infrastructure, financed by its first-ever tolls on trucks, launched in June. But it still finishes last in the category.”

CNBC said its infrastructure score is based on the value of goods shipped "by air, waterways, roads and rail," the availability of flights, the quality of roads and bridges, the length of average commutes, and the condition of water and wastewater systems.

Massachusetts once again ranked far higher than Rhode Island on the list: 8th, up from 10th in 2017 and 20th in 2016. Connecticut dipped to 37th, down from 33rd in 2017 but up from 43rd in 2016.

The top four states overall were Texas, Washington, Utah and Virginia; the bottom four were Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia and Hawaii.

The CNBC list and its methodology have a number of critics, but Rhode Island's elected leaders have made clear over the years they care about the state's perennially poor showings on various national business-climate rankings such as this one.

The latest rankings quickly became fodder for the gubernatorial campaign.

“[Democratic Gov. Gina] Raimondo talks a big game about making real progress in Rhode Island, but with sluggish economic growth, unemployment above the national average, and four years of abysmal ratings for business, the facts don’t match her words,” Republican Governors Association spokesman John Burke said.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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