Manufacturing Migrates to Right to Work States

Between 1986 and 2016, the share of all U.S. manufacturing production for Right to Work states nearly doubled, rising from 28.9% to 50.1%. And it’s almost certainly headed higher still.

Cost of Living-Adjusted Factory Pay Lower in Forced-Dues States

According to U.S. Commerce Department data released this spring, last year, for the first time ever, the 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.

Early this year, the 27th and 28th state Right to Work laws were respectively adopted in Kentucky and Missouri.

Consequently, it now seems inevitable that, when the Commerce Department issues its annual report on state manufacturing GDP for 2017 next spring, it will show an even higher share of U.S factory output emanating from Right to Work states.

From 2011 to 2016, Right to Work States’ Factory Payroll Employment Grew by 5.9%

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King commented:

“The 50.1% of all domestic 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 that 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 had Right to Work laws on the books for the entire period enjoyed a 5.9% overall increase in factory jobs.

“That’s nearly double the combined percentage gain for the 24 states that were still forced-unionism in 2016.”

Big Labor Bosses Have Foisted Counter-Productive Work Rules On Employees, Businesses

Ms. King added that counter-productive work rules imposed and perpetuated for decades by Big Labor bosses wielding forced-unionism privileges are obviously a key factor behind the state manufacturing GDP data.

“In industry after industry,” she explained, “union bosses have negotiated contracts requiring rigid job classifications that waste time and money, ultimately to the detriment of workers’ paychecks and job security.

“Starting in the late 1980’s, it became increasingly apparent that firms under rigid union monopoly-bargaining rules like the Big Three automakers were being crushed by union-free domestic competition, which is most often based in Right to Work states.

“Over the past few years, manufacturing union bosses have finally responded by grudgingly allowing some reforms of work rules and inefficient health-insurance and pension systems. But for the most part it has been too little, too late.”

By comparison with the manufacturing facilities of America’s past, the new factories springing up in Right to Work states located in the Southern, Rocky Mountain, Great Plains, and Great Lakes regions are highly efficient.

Factories of 21st Century Require Enterprising Workers

They require enterprising workers.  And the highly productive jobs located in such sites are enabling millions of workers to provide well for themselves and their families

Commerce data, adjusted for regional cost-of-living differences according to an index calculated by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), a government agency, show that in 2015 the average annual compensation per Right to Work state manufacturing employee was $76,454.

That’s nearly $3400 more than the average for states that still lacked Right to Work protections in 2015.

“The manufacturing sector must be seen as a vital component of our national prosperity,” said Ms. King.  “It is a sector that today represents 13.4% of the entire private economy.

“And Right to Work laws have played an absolutely critical role in enabling this sector to continue growing and prospering.”

(Click here to download the October 2017 National Right to Work Newsletter)