By Stan Greer
Where to Make It in America – By Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox, Daily Beast
Fewer than 40% of American employees reside in one of the 22 states that have had Right to Work laws on the books since the national economy officially began to recover from the Great Recession in June 2009. But the bulk of the recovery has occurred in these 22 states, plus Indiana and Michigan, whose recently enacted Right to Work laws took effect in February 2012 and March 2013, respectively.
From June 2009 through June 2013, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data (see the first link above), civilian employment in the 26 states that still lack Right to Work laws increased by just 2.35%. (Civilian employment is a broad measure that includes the self-employed and contractual employees as well as payroll employees.)
That’s slightly less than half the 4.75% increase for the 22 states that had Right to Work laws prior to 2012. If employment growth in the 26 remaining forced-unionism states had matched the Right to Work average, 1.85 million additional Americans would be holding jobs this summer.
The correlation between Right to Work status and job growth has been quite robust over the past four years. Eight of the nine states with the greatest percentage increases in employment growth have long prohibited compulsory unionism. But six of the nine states with the lowest growth (or no growth) continue today to deny employees the Right to Work without being forced to bankroll a union.
Longer term data that include the relatively robust recovery years of 2003-2006 and the 2007-2008 recession also show a strong Right to Work advantage. From 2001 to 2011, total private-sector employment (including payroll and non-payroll jobs) in Right to Work states as measured by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis grew by 12.5%, nearly quadruple forced-unionism states’ 3.5% increase.
Employment data as well as a host of other economic indicators confirm that analysts Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox are on the right track in identifying multiple U.S. metropolitan areas located entirely in Right to Work states as among the best in the country for people who want to “change their circumstances and improve their lives” (see the second link above). Eight of the nine top “aspirational cities” on the Kotkin-Cox list are located entirely in Right to Work states, and even the single exception (Washington, D.C.) is located largely in Right to Work Virginia.