Fears of Right-to-Work Proving False

During the battle of Michigan becoming a right-to-work state, opponents predicted doomsday scenarios about what would happen to workers and the state. But in each of the most important economic measures — job growth, income growth and population — right-to-work states are far outperforming non-right-to-work states.

My colleagues and I produced a few charts showing the trends. The information is from the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics and from the U.S. Census Bureau.

In terms of employment growth, from January 1990 to April 2014, right-to-work states averaged growth at twice the rate of their counterparts and made up 18 of the top 25 states. States that were non-right-to-work during the bulk of the period made up all 10 of the states with the least amount of job growth.

State Employment Growth 1990-2014 - click to enlarge

For median household income growth, from 1990 to 2012, right-to-work states made up 13 of the top 20 states while forced unionism states made up 10 of the 15 states whose residents declined in real income over the period.

State Median Household Income Growth Growth 1990-2012 - click to enlarge

Since 1990, eight of the 10 states with the greatest population growth are also right-to-work states while nine out of 10 of those with the least growth were forced unionism states for that period (the other was Louisiana which lost people because of Hurricane Katrina).

Correlation is not necessarily causation and there are many factors that go into making states perform well economically. But at the very least, the strident economic fears about becoming a right-to-work state — which is most important because it gives choice to individual workers — should be put to rest.


Jarrett Skorup is a research associate at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited. 


Statistics show that right-to-work states are consistently outperforming non-right-to-work states in important economic measures, including job, income and population growth. The doomsday predictions that surrounded Michigan becoming the 24th right-to-work state have been proven false and should be put to rest.

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