RALEIGH – Raleigh is the best place among the nation’s 100 largest metros and Durham is third, according to a new study from Charlotte-based financial services firm LendingTree.

Charlotte came in second, according to the report issued Tuesday.

Austin, Texas – often seen as Raleigh’s rival as a technology hub – fell to seventh from second.

Among the highlights: Raleigh scored a perfect 100 for business climate and finished with an overall score of 86.5. Charlotte scored 77.1, Durham 76.6.

It’s a repeat honor for Raleigh, which topped the previous LendingTree study in 2021. Charlotte rose one spot as did Durham in the new one.

About Raleigh the report says it “holds solid scores in our three categories — business climate, entrepreneurship and local economy — and places 25th or better in six of the nine individual metrics.”


LendingTree pointed out that the “strong business climate score” was due in part to “its high rate of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher — 50.8%, the sixth-highest in our study.”

Raleigh also scored well in entrepreneurship, the number of workers in their “prime working years” and percentage of self-employed residents at 4.2%.

Those numbers increased from the 2021 report, strengthening Raleigh’s grip on the top spot, the study notes:

  • Raleigh’s percentage of residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher improved to sixth from seventh in our 2021 study.
  • Raleigh’s proportion of residents in their prime working years jumped to seventh from ninth in 2021.
  • North Carolina ranks 11th in our business survival rate metric — 82.7% of the state’s startups make it past the one-year mark, 1 percentage point above the national average of 81.7%.

Noting that Durham is the 10th smallest in the 100 metros studied, the report pointed out the city ranked “seventh for the percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree (50.6%), just behind Raleigh’s 50.8%.”

However, Durham received “mediocre rankings in our entrepreneurship metrics. It placed 39th for the proportion of residents in their prime working years and 44th for the percentage of self-employed residents — significantly lower than nearby Raleigh, ranked 28th.” (source)