Real gross state product is the market value of all goods and services produced in a state over the course of a year, corrected to account for inflation. Real GSP is the most basic measurement of economic growth. Over the five-year period between 2001 and 2006, the average right-to-work state saw its gross state product grow by 18.1 percent, versus 13.6 percent for non-right-to-work states.[3] During that same period Michigan’s gross state product grew by only 3.4 percent, easily the slowest growth of any state in the union. Next-to-last West Virginia, another non-right-to-work state, managed GSP growth of 7.3 percent. The lowest performing right-to-work states were Louisiana and Mississippi, both of which were struck by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, yet both outperformed Michigan, with real GSP growth of 9.2 and 9.5 percent respectively.[4]

Graphic 1 - click to enlarge

In the 2002 report, Wilson found that between 1977 and 1999 right-to-work states had an average annual (year-to-year, as opposed to cumulative) GSP growth rate of 3.4 percent, versus 2.9 percent for non-right-to-work and 1.8 percent for Michigan. This GSP growth gap of half a percent per year, while modest in appearance, had a significant impact when repeated over 30 years. That growth gap has gotten larger: between 2001 and 2006 annual GSP growth averaged 3.4 percent in right-to-work states, compared with 2.6 percent in non-right-to-work states, a difference of 0.8 percent. Michigan’s annual GSP growth during that same period was only 0.7 percent.