News Release: Unemployment Rates Lower in Right-to-Work State

Latest unemployment figures indicate value of voluntary unionism, says Center scholar

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009

Paul Kersey
Director of Labor Policy

MIDLAND - The latest state unemployment figures, released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that state right-to-work laws have a significant effect on unemployment rates, said Paul Kersey, director of labor policy for the Mackinac Center. In December 2008, states with right-to-work laws had an average unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, compared to 7.0 percent for states without right-to-work. Under a right-to-work law, individual workers cannot be forced to pay union dues or agency fees under the term of a collective bargaining agreement.

"Right-to-work laws make unions more accountable to their rank and file," said Kersey. "When you make unions more accountable to workers, you make a state more attractive to employers. A right-to-work law by itself doesn't guarantee prosperity, but it does seem to help. Allowing workers to decide for themselves whether or not to support a union does attract job-creating businesses, making work easier to find. These numbers bear that out."

Michigan has the highest unemployment of all 50 states, at 10.6 percent. Rhode Island, another non-right-to-work state, had the nation's second highest unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent. The six states with the lowest unemployment rates all have right-to-work laws.