Better Options For College Graduates in Right to Work States
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 2009 through 2015, the total population of the U.S., aged 25-64, grew by 3.9%, but the number of people in that age bracket with at least a bachelor’s degree grew by 11.1%.
Superior Opportunities For College-Educated Mean More, Better Jobs For All
And as of this May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate for civilians aged 25 or older (including people 65 and over) with one or more higher-education degrees was 74.0%, or 11.2 percentage points higher than the overall labor force participation rate.
Also in May, the nationwide unemployment rate for the 55.1 million college-educated adults 25 and over was just 2.1%, or roughly half the average for the workforce as a whole.
The bottom-line significance of this 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-seven states were either Right to Work or forced-unionism for the entire period from 2009 to 2015.
Lower Cost of Living Benefits People of All Educational Backgrounds
Among these states, all of the five with the lowest percentage gains in working-age, college-educated population over that period — Rhode Island, New Mexico, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York — are forced-dues states. Eleven of the twelve bottom-ranking states are forced-dues states.
On the other hand, the seven states with the highest percentage growth in their college-educated populations, aged 25-64, from 2009 through 2015 are North Dakota, Wyoming, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
These states are located in the Southeastern, Southwestern, Plains and Rocky Mountains 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 2009 to 2015 the 25 states that still didn’t have Right to Work laws as of 2015 experienced only about two-thirds as great a gain in their college-educated populations 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 Protect Right to Work
Mr. Mourad cited a recent analysis by City University of New York professor Mitchell Langbert.
Dr. Langbert found that, after controlling for other kinds of deregulation, workforce education, and other factors, cost-of-living-adjusted annual wages per employee are on average nearly $4,300 higher in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states.
(For more information, see page eight of this Newsletter edition.)
Mr. Mourad concluded: “Dr. Langbert’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 employees should pay heed.”