College Graduates Flock to Right to Work States

Compulsory-Dues States Offer Fewer Opportunities For Advancement

Federal data on the American workforce and employment and unemployment rates show that, even as our country’s economy experienced during the Obama presidency its most anemic recovery since the Great Depression, employer demand for college-educated employees continued to rise at a surprisingly rapid clip.

From 2007 through 2017, the total population of the U.S., aged 25-64, grew by 6.4%, but the number of people in that age bracket with at least a bachelor’s degree grew by 20.8%.

And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of this April, the labor force participation rate for college-educated civilians aged 25 and older (including people 65 and over) was 73.9%, or 11.1 percentage points higher than the overall labor force participation rate.

Also in April, the nationwide unemployment rate for the 58.4 million college-educated adults aged 25 and over and in the labor force was just 2.1%, or 40% lower than the average for their counterparts with a high school degree, but no college.

Superior Opportunities For College-Educated Mean More, Better Jobs For All

The bottom-line significance of these data is that employers across the country typically have more difficulty finding a qualified college-educated person to fill a position than a college-educated person has finding a good job.

Of course, not everyone who holds a bachelor’s degree and is in the workforce is doing well economically. But generally speaking, there is still a “seller’s market” for college-educated labor in America today.

Furthermore, many businesses that sustain large numbers of jobs for people with associate’s degrees, high school diplomas, or less education also require a substantial number of college-educated people to operate efficiently.

Therefore, the rate at which a state is gaining college-educated people, relative to the national average, is in itself a good indication of how successful the state is in creating and retaining good jobs.

According to this important criterion, states that still lack Right to Work protections for employees are performing quite poorly.

Forty-five states were either Right to Work or forced-unionism for the entire period from 2007 to 2017.

Among these states, all of the eight with the lowest percentage gains in working-age, college-educated population over the decade — Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio and Illinois — are forced-dues states. Ten of the 11 bottom-ranking states are forced-dues states.

Lower Cost of Living Benefits People of All Educational Backgrounds

On the other hand, the four states with the highest-percentage growth in their college-educated populations, aged 25-64, from 2007 to 2017 are Utah, Texas, North Carolina, and North Dakota.

These states are located, respectively, in the Rocky Mountain, Southwestern, Southeastern and Plains regions of America.

And they are culturally as well as regionally diverse. 

What these states have in common is that they all have on the books Right to Work laws that make it illegal to force employees to join or pay dues or fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment.

In the aggregate, from 2007 to 2017 the 23 states that still didn’t have Right to Work laws in effect as of 2017 experienced only about 70% as great a gain in their college-educated populations as did Right to Work states.

“The simple fact is, college-educated employees, like other employees, benefit from Right to Work laws,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen.

“Working-age people of all kinds prefer to live in Right to Work states when they can because living costs are lower and real incomes are higher.”

Mr. Leen cited a recent analysis by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research.

Forced-Unionism States Seeking a ‘Brain Gain’ Should Pass Right to Work

The Institute found that the average cost of living-adjusted, after-tax income per household in Right to Work states in 2017 was $57,416, roughly $4,500 higher than the forced-unionism state average.

Mr. Leen concluded:

“The Institute’s analysis reinforces what the Census data already show: Forced-unionism states seeking a ‘brain gain’ should pass Right to Work laws.

“Policymakers in the 22 states that still lack Right to Work protections for workers should pay heed to the data.” 

(source: July 2019 National Right To Work Newsletter)