Michigan Already Benefitting from Right-to-work

On Sept. 1, Director of Labor Policy F. Vincent Vernuccio joined a Wisconsin legislator and a national expert in labor economics to discuss Wisconsin’s new right-to-work law at The Heritage Foundation.

James Sherk, a research fellow at the foundation, presented findings from his most recent report, which criticizes a claim by the Economic Policy Institute that right-to-work reduces wages. According to Sherk, the institute inadequately accounted for differences in the cost of living between right-to-work and non-right-to-work states. Vernuccio and Sherk sparred with the Economic Policy Institute when they testified before the Wisconsin Senate as it considered right-to-work in February 2015.

Wisconsin State Sen. Chris Kapenga, a key backer of worker freedom in the Badger State, described how the move to enact right-to-work played out in Wisconsin’s 2015 legislative session.

Vernuccio drew on statistics from the Mackinac Center’s Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman showing the benefits of right-to-work. Michigan’s economy had the highest drop in unemployment of any state, dropping from 14.9 percent at the end of the recession in June 2009 to 5.0 percent in September 2015.

Employment in Michigan is up. Calculating the numbers from when right-to-work took effect in March 2013 until December 2014, Michigan’s employment levels increased by 141,990 people or 3.3 percent.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that since right-to-work’s implementation, Michigan’s private sector average wage increased 3.2 percent. Average weekly earnings increased 5.3 percent. And the Federal Housing Finance Agency reports that over the last five years, home values in Michigan have grown eighth fastest in the nation.

Higher home values, better wages, greater job growth and a lower employment rate: All of these show that Michigan is on the right track, and right-to-work is part of the reason.