Future of U.S. Manufacturing Is in Right to Work States

This month Toyota employees began moving into the automotive company’s new North American Headquarters in Right to Work Texas. The company’s decision to move its North American home from forced-unionism California to a state where the individual employee’s freedom to join and pay dues to a union, or refuse to do either, is protected is emblematic of the overall trend of U.S. manufacturing. Image: dallasnews.com

According to recently released U.S. Commerce Department, last year, for the first time ever, a majority of the entire U.S. manufacturing output occurred in states that had prohibited compulsory union dues and fees.

As recently as 2006, just 37.9% of current-dollar manufacturing production in the U.S. took place in Right to work states.

And in the wake of the adoption of the 27th and 28th state Right to Work laws in Kentucky and Missouri early this year, it now seems inevitable that, when the Commerce Department issues is annual report on state manufacturing GDP for 2017 next spring, it will show an even higher share of the nation’s factory output emanating from Right to Work states.

The 50.1% share of all manufacturing output captured by Right to Work states in 2016 was a milestone in a long march toward worker freedom. In 1986, the sixth year of the Reagan presidency, just 28.9% of U.S. factory production came out of Right to Work states, then 21 in number. By 1996, the year Bill Clinton was reelected, the Right to Work share of U.S. manufacturing output had risen to 32.4%, although the number of Right to Work states remained 21.

Right to Work’s gradual rise to dominance in domestic manufacturing output and employment is a consequence in part of the adoption of Right to Work laws in Oklahoma, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia between 2001 and 2016. This year’s Right to Work victories in the Bluegrass and Show-Me States represent a continuation and acceleration of this trend.

But even if you exclude states with recently adopted protections against forced unionism, the manufacturing success of Right to Work states is evident from the data.

For example, from 2011 to 2016, the 22 states that Right to Work laws on the books for the entire period enjoyed a 5.9% increase in factory- sector jobs.  That’s nearly double the percentage gain for the 24 states that were still forced-unionism in 2016.

And this year, multiple manufacturing-related stories in the news, such as the just-concluded relocation of Toyota’s North American headquarters from forced-unionism California to Right to Work Texas (see the link below for more information), indicate the exodus of good jobs out of Big Labor-dominated states is continuing.

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