Nine economic statistics (Gross State Product, employment growth, manufacturing and construction employment, the unemployment rate, per-capita disposable income, unit labor costs, poverty rate, and income inequality) provide the yardstick for comparing economic development between RTW and non-RTW states. These statistics represent a diverse cross-section of economic data, providing a multifaceted comparison of economic development between the states. Contingent upon data availability, results are presented over three decades, 1970 through 2000.2

To show key inflection points for each of the nine statistics, the results are presented for each decade in Appendix I. In addition to comparing key differences between RTW and non-RTW states, Michigan's results are presented separately.

The time series methodology will account for the status change of Louisiana and Idaho, which became RTW states in 1977 and 1985, respectively. Oklahoma is classified as a non-RTW state for purposes of this study, since its change to RTW status is too recent (2001) for the effects to be reflected in the statistics.