Families Fare Better in Right to Work States

Even Big Labor partisan Binyamin Applebaum can see living standards are higher in Right to Work states. (Credit: Johnny Harris)

Hard Data Show Why Forced Union Dues Should Be Banned Nationwide

As the lead writer on economic matters for the New York Times, Binyamin Applebaum is notorious for carrying water for Big Labor and forced unionism.

In a 2019 book and in his columns for the Times, Mr. Appelbaum has again and again dismissed out of hand, without offering any plausible explanation why, the longstanding consensus among economists that government-promoted union monopolies foster the misallocation of capital.

Over time, this misallocation lowers compensation for employees as well as revenues and profits for business owners, as economists ranging from Milton Friedman to John Maynard Keynes have understood. Somehow, Mr. Applebaum doesn’t get it.

But even he can see that ordinary wage- and salary-earners and their families generally fare worse in the shrinking number of states where forced union dues and fees as a condition of employment are still permitted than in states where the Right to Work is legally protected.

Late last year, Mr. Applebaum teamed up with freelance journalist Johnny Harris to make a 14-minute video looking at the quality of life for ordinary people in the 18 states where Democrat politicians wield the most political power vs. in the rest of the country.

Their conclusion is clear from the video’s title: “Blue States, You’re the Problem.”

Mr. Applebaum and Mr. Harris don’t say it, but the fact is that 16 of the 18 “blue” states they castigate for a lack of housing ordinary employees can afford to live in and a lack of opportunities for lower-income workers to climb the economic ladder, among other things, are forced-dues states.

Real Personal Consumption Grew 44% Faster in Right to Work States From 2010-20

Indeed, all of the 10 states where Big Labor extracts forced dues and fees from a higher share of employees than anywhere else — Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, California, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon and Illinois — are on the Applebaum-Harris list of “problematic” states.

“There is no doubt Binyamin Applebaum and Johnny Harris are correct that employees and their families generally fare better in Right to Work states like Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona than they do in Big Labor stronghold states,” said National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen.

“The new and updated data on personal consumption expenditures [PCE] in the 50 states released by the U.S. Commerce Department last October illustrate the point.

“Faster growth in jobs and income is clearly the key reason why inflation-adjusted expenditures on housing, health care, food, clothing, cars, gas, and other goods and services are rising far more rapidly in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states.

“The Commerce data issued in the fall of 2021 show that, from 2010 to 2020, real PCE grew by 22.3% in the 22 states that were Right to Work the whole time.

“That’s 44% greater real PCE growth than was experienced in the aggregate in the 23 states that still allow forced unionism today.”

In addition to being correlated with faster PCE growth, Right to Work is correlated with higher real after-tax incomes.

Committee Members Won’t Be Satisfied Until Every Employee Is Protected From Forced Dues

U.S. Census Bureau data, adjusted for interstate cost-of-living differences according to an index calculated by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a state agency, show that the average after-tax household income in the 27 Right to Work states in 2019 was $64,572.

That’s roughly $4,300 higher than the forced-dues state average. (This analysis also uses the nonpartisan Tax Foundation as a source.)

“The economic benefits of Right to Work — and the injustice of forced union dues — are so obvious one has to wonder how it is that nearly half of the private employees in the U.S. are still vulnerable to being corralled into a union,” said Mr. Leen.

“Committee members won’t be satisfied until every American employee is protected from forced union dues.

“That’s why, this winter, Committee members across the U.S. are mobilizing support for S.406/H.R.1275, the National Right to Work Act.

“This legislation would bar forced union dues nationwide, simply by repealing all the current federal labor-law provisions that deny the individual employee the Right to Work.”

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