Union Propagandists Ignore or Understate Cost of Living’s Impact
(Click here to download the June 2015 National Right to Work Newsletter)
An ever-growing mountain of research and countless ordinary Americans’ personal experience confirm that nominal income per capita, unadjusted for regional differences in the cost of living, is quite misleading as a gauge of a state’s living standards relative to the national average.
“Union officials and other opponents of Right to Work laws know as well as anyone else that compulsory-unionism states like California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are far more expensive than the national average,” said Matthew Leen, vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.
“But they routinely downplay, or even try to pretend out of existence, regional disparities in the cost of living when they are attacking Right to Work laws.”
‘California Today . . . Has the Highest Poverty Rate in the Country’
“Many statistics regarding incomes in Right to Work states and forced-unionism states cited by Big Labor propagandists ignore regional cost-of-living differences completely,” continued Mr. Leen.
As Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University in Big Labor-ruled California and a widely recognized expert regarding demographic, social and economic trends, has pointed out again and again, by several key standards Golden Staters are typically far worse off than the average American.
In an April commentary for the Daily Beast, for example, Mr. Kotkin pointed out that California, where just over 12% of the U.S. population lives, is home to “one-third” of the nation’s “welfare recipients.”
Mr. Kotkin continued: “California today, based on cost of living, has the highest poverty rate in the country.”
He also explained how the state’s extraordinarily high housing costs, largely the result of public policies inaugurated and sustained by forced union dues-funded politicians, are driving out well-educated young adults: “[I]t’s doubtful either of my daughters will ever be able to buy a house here.”
Yet last year California ranked in the top 25% of states for nominal disposable income per capita.
“Union bosses and their allies on university faculties and in pro-Big Labor ‘think tanks’ understand that, if they adequately accounted for geographic differences in living costs, their data would show living standards are higher in Right to Work states,” said Mr. Leen.
“No wonder analyses comparing wages in Right to Work states and forced-unionism states published by the Big Labor-funded Economic Policy Institute routinely ‘under-compensate for the effect of living costs on wages,’ as a recent Heritage Foundation paper demonstrated.”
A National Institute for Labor Relations Research analysis adjusting 2014 disposable income per capita in the 50 states as reported by the U.S. Commerce Department for regional cost of living illustrates why Big Labor apologists feel the need to ignore or make light of this key component of living standards.
Six States With Highest Cost Of Living-Adjusted Incomes Are All Right to Work
The Institute analysis relied on the annual state cost-of-living indices for 2014 calculated and published by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), a government agency that has no ax to grind on the Right to Work issue.
The Institute found that the average cost of living-adjusted disposable income per capita in Right to Work states last year was $39,919, nearly $2000 higher than the forced-unionism state average.
All of the six highest-ranking states (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming) have Right to Work laws on the books.
Moreover, forced-unionism California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, and West Virginia all rank in the bottom six for cost of living-adjusted disposable income per capita.
‘The Best Reason to Oppose Compulsory Unionism Is That It’s Just Plain Wrong’
“The strong correlation between Right to Work status and higher cost of living-adjusted disposable incomes and faster income and compensation growth indicates that compulsory unionism makes workers poorer,” said Mr. Leen.
“The evidence surely discredits loud assertions by union propagandists that compulsory unionism is good for workers’ pocketbooks.
“But fundamentally this issue isn’t about economics. The best reason to oppose compulsory unionism is that it’s just plain wrong.”