Fewer ‘Needy’ Families in Right to Work States

Despite the undeniable correlation between forced unionism and dependency on federal welfare programs, union bosses often outrageously claim that corralling workers into unions is somehow a remedy for poverty.

People Thrice as Apt to Be on Welfare in Forced-Unionism States

Last fall, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released data for March 2017 regarding participation in all 50 states in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

Among other things, the ACF reported the total number of residents of each state who as of March 2017 were dependent on cash payments from the TANF program to get by.

On Average, Cost of Living-Adjusted Poverty Lower In Right to Work States

As they consistently have done in the past, the latest available ACF data for the 50 states show that residents of states lacking Right to Work protections for employees are far more likely to rely on TANF money than are residents of states where the Right to Work is protected by law.

To be precise, an average of 11.6 per 1,000 residents of forced-unionism states were TANF recipients at the end of last winter, compared to an average of just 3.9 per 1,000 in states where employees can’t be fired for refusal to join or bankroll a union.

Ten of the 11 states with the highest TANF dependency ratios lack Right to Work laws, and the sole exception, Kentucky, was still a forced-unionism state as of the end of 2016.

(See the chart above for more information.)

Meanwhile, 12 of the 13 states with the lowest shares of residents receiving TANF payments are Right to Work states.

TANF dependency is on average far lower in Right to Work states for two basic reasons.

First, poverty as gauged by the federal government’s supplemental poverty measure (SPM), which takes regional cost-of-living differences into account, is a bit lower in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states.

And forced-unionism states’ disadvantage for SPM poverty is greater once demographic factors such as relative educational attainment and age composition are taken into account.

Right to Work State Residents Are More Hopeful About Improving Their Circumstances

The second key reason why TANF dependency is much higher in forced-unionism states is that members of households in Right to Work states that technically fit the definition of “poor” are clearly far more apt to believe they can advance economically without taking cash from the federal government.

People in Right to Work states are also less inclined to turn for help to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

These two giant government operations, each far larger than TANF, aim to cover health-care expenses for low-income Americans.

In 2012, the last year for which near-comprehensive data are available, the share of forced-dues state residents that were dependent on Medicaid/CHIP was 2.8 percentage points higher, on average, than in Right to Work states.

Corralling Workers Into Unions Is No Rx For Poverty, But Union Dons Pretend It Is

Despite the undeniable correlation between forced unionism and dependency on TANF, Medicaid, and CHIP, union bosses often outrageously claim that corralling workers into unions is somehow a remedy for poverty.

That is not true.

One example of union-boss clue-lessness occurred before Kentucky and Missouri passed their Right to Work laws early last year.

The latest TANF data then available showed that TANF dependency in both states was roughly double the average for Right to Work states.

Yet in testimony before state legislators, Kentucky AFL-CIO kingpin Bill Londrigan and Missouri AFL-CIO chief Mike Louis insinuated struggling residents of their states would somehow be worse off if Big Labor’s forced-dues privileges were revoked.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King commented:

“The actual federal data on the cost of living-adjusted poverty and the state-by-state TANF and Medicaid rolls showed and continue to show Mr. Londrigan and Mr. Louis had no idea what they were talking about.

“The fact is, in addition to protecting employee freedom and promoting faster growth generally, Right to Work laws serve as a no-cost anti-poverty program with a proven record of success.”

(Click here to download the March 2018 National Right to Work Newsletter)