Big Labor-Controlled Governments Making Many States Unaffordable
Right to Work
States Are Far More Affordable
Compulsory Union Dues Makes Your Dollar Go Further
Late this winter,
the Jefferson City-based Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a
state government agency, published its annual comparative cost-of-living
indices for 2018.
As MERIC explains
on its website, it “derives the cost of living index for each state by
averaging the indices of participating cities and metropolitan areas in that
city/metropolitan area indices are derived from an ongoing nationwide survey
conducted by the nonpartisan, Arlington, Va.-based Council for Community and
Overall Cost of Living
27.6% Higher in Forced-Unionism States
For years, MERIC
has regularly updated its indices to estimate the current cost of living for
Institute for Labor Relations Research uses these data to calculate average
annual costs of living for Right to Work states as a group and forced-unionism
states as a group.
As of the beginning
of last year, 27 states had already adopted and implemented Right to Work laws
protecting employees from federal labor law provisions authorizing forced union
dues and fees.
The 27 Right to
Work states combined had a population-weighted cost of living 6.1% below the
national average in 2018. The 23 forced-unionism states combined had a
population-weighted cost of living 19.7% above the national average.
(MERIC itself does
not weigh states based on population size in calculating its indices. For that
reason, the national average for population-weighted states does not equal
forced-unionism states were 27.6% more expensive to live in than Right to Work
states last year.
between forced-unionism status and a higher cost of living is robust.
Not one of the 14
highest-cost states in 2018 has a Right to Work law. But 13 of the 14 lowest
cost-of-living states protect employees’ Right to Work.
not equal causation, but there is a compelling case to be made that compulsory
unionism actually fosters a higher cost of living.
wielding forced-dues privileges funnel a large share of the conscripted money
they reap into efforts to elect and reelect politicians who favor higher taxes
on and heavier regulation of businesses.
About What Their Paychecks Can Buy
And many economists
credibly argue that excessive government regulation is a major factor behind
high housing, energy, and other costs in forced-unionism states like
California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
of academic research by economists such as Thomas M. Carroll and Richard J.
Cebula have shown that one side benefit of state Right to Work laws is that
they help reduce the cost of living in the jurisdictions where they are in
John Kalb, vice
president of the National Right to Work Committee, commented:
“Even in the highly
unlikely event it could be established that forced unionism did not cause
higher living costs, the strong correlation between forced unionism and higher
costs would still be relevant in assessing the economic impact of Right to Work
“What matters most
to employees seeking better lives for themselves and their families, and
employers seeking to attract and retain good employees, is not nominal wages
“It is what those
wages and salaries can buy in the location where the employees and their
“That’s why honest
efforts to make comparisons of annual wages and salaries and other types of
income in Right to Work states versus forced-unionism states must always be
informed by MERIC’s or some other nonpartisan comparative cost-of-living index.
“For example, in 2017
the real average annual compensation per private-sector employee in Right to
Work states was roughly $1,750 higher than the average per employee
compensation in forced-unionism states, using MERIC’s indices to adjust for
regional cost-of-living disparities.
“Unfortunately, state income data cited by Big Labor propagandists frequently do not factor in cost-of-living differences at all. And even when they are incorporated, cost-of-living differences are grossly and arbitrarily understated.”