College-Educated and Other Employees Flock to Right to Work States
Federal data on the American workforce and employment and unemployment rates show that, even as the nation suffered a severe recession and the most anemic recovery since the Great Depression over the past decade, employer demand for college-educated employees rose at a surprisingly rapid clip.
From 2006 through 2016, the total population of the U.S., aged 25-64, grew by 6.6%, but the number of people in that age bracket with at least a bachelor’s degree grew by 20.2%.
Superior Opportunities For College-Educated Mean More, Better Jobs For All
And, as of this August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation for civilians aged 25 and older (including people 65 and over) with one or more higher-education degrees was 73.5%.
That’s 9.5 percentage points higher than the overall labor-force participation for people in that age bracket.
Also in August, the nationwide unemployment rate for college-educated adults 25 and over was just 2.3%, compared to 3.9% for the workforce as a whole.
The bottom-line significance of these data is 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.
Lower Cost of Living Benefits People of All Educational Backgrounds
Forty-six states were either Right to Work or forced-unionism for the entire period from 2006 to 2016.
Among these states, all of the eight with the lowest percentage gains in working-age, college-educated population over that period — Vermont, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey — are forced-dues states. Eighteen of the 20 bottom-ranking states are forced-dues states.
On the other hand, the five states with the highest percentage growth in their college-educated populations, aged 25-64, from 2006 through 2016 are Right to Work Utah, Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota and South Carolina.
These states are located in the Rocky Mountain, Southwestern, Southeastern and Plains regions of America.
And they are culturally as well as regionally diverse.
In the aggregate, the 24 states that still didn’t have Right to Work laws as of 2016 experienced only about two-thirds as great a gain in their college-educated population as did Right to Work states.
“The simple fact is, highly educated employees, like other employees, benefit from Right to Work laws,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad.
“Employees of all kinds prefer to live in Right to Work states when they can because living costs are lower and real incomes are higher.”
Forced-Unionism States Seeking a ‘Brain Gain’ Should Pass Right to Work
Mr. Mourad noted that the most recent available data show no let up in the net movement of more educated employees to Right to Work states:
“From 2015 to 2016 alone, the four states with the greatest percentage gains in college-educated, working-age population were Idaho, Arizona, Iowa, and North Carolina — all Right to Work.”
“The long-term data and the latest available Census Bureau reports point in the same direction. And they are perfectly consistent with multiple analyses showing that cost of living-adjusted per employee earnings are higher on average in Right to Work states.
“Forced-unionism states seeking a ‘brain gain’ need to pass Right to Work laws. Policymakers in the 23 states that still lack Right to Work protections for employees should pay heed.”