More than one American a minute moved from a closed-shop state to a “right-to-work” state

In an article titled Labour Pains: Barack Obama will never satisfy his union backers. Nor should he try, The Economists looks at the destruction that results from following Big Labor policies:

Richard Vedder of Ohio University observes that, between 2000 and 2008, more than one American a minute moved from a closed-shop state to a “right-to-work” state (ie, one where you cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment).

Stephen Walters of Loyola University finds that American cities with above-median unionisation rates have grown poorer and less populous.

Too much attention is paid to the budget deficit, says Mr Trumka, and not enough to the jobs deficit. Funds can be found by squeezing “Wall Street and the super-rich”, who must “pay their fair share…to rebuild the economy that they destroyed.”

As the Senate debates a jobs bill, it is worth knowing what Mr Obama’s most powerful backers want. Unions spent hundreds of millions of dollars on electing Democrats in 2008, and provided an army of campaign volunteers. They expect something back, and Mr Obama is keen to oblige—up to a point.

But his biggest favour has been green, foldable and borrowed. For example, he encourages the use of [Union-Only] “Project Labour Agreements” on big federal construction projects, whereby contractors must recruit through a union hiring hall. Such agreements inflate costs by 12-18%, according to David Tuerck of Suffolk University, and were banned under Mr Bush.

For the unions, public cash is a lifeline. The proportion of American workers at private firms who belong to unions tumbled from more than 30% in 1960 to 7% last year. By contrast, a hefty 40% of government workers are unionised and the rate has remained stable for decades. Under Mr Obama, the private sector has haemorrhaged jobs but the number of government workers has fallen only slightly. Last year for the first time more than half of American union members worked for the government.