Utah once again has been deemed to be the second-best state for business in rankings released Thursday by Forbes.com.

The "Best States for Business" rankings put Utah behind only Virginia and ahead of Washington, North Carolina and Georgia. Forbes.com described Virginia's lead over Utah as "razor thin" and noted that the top five states were "all closely bunched together."

Utah also was second in the 2007 rankings. Virginia finished first for the third straight year. In this year's list, Utah neighbors Colorado was sixth, and Idaho was seventh. West Virginia was the lowest-ranked state.

In the six categories used to compute the overall ranking, Utah was eighth among states for quality of life, ninth for economic climate, 10th for labor, 11th for business costs, 12th for growth prospects and 19th for regulatory environment.

Forbes.com said Virginia's ranking for growth projections for the next five years was 26th, slipping from eighth a year ago. But the state had the best regulatory environment, in part due to the second-best incentive programs in the nation and the fifth-best tort atmosphere. Virginia's other high points included energy costs that are 30 percent below the national average and an educated labor force, Forbes.com said.

Thursday's rankings were the second top-three finish for Utah recently. Three weeks ago, Utah finished third overall among states in a CNBC list of "America's Top States for Business." Utah was behind top-ranked Texas and No. 2 Virginia in the list, which was based on publicly available data on 40 different measures of competitiveness.

E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com