New evidence "Right to Work boon for Oklahoma"

Families are fleeing compulsory unionism states and moving to Right Work States like Oklahoma.  And, that is not all that is OKay in Oklahoma since it became the 22nd Right to Work state in 2001.  From a recent analysis by J. Scott Moody and Wendy P. Warcholik of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs:

On September 25, 2001, Oklahoma voters went to the polls and passed a constitutional amendment—Right to Work (RTW)—which gave workers the choice to join or financially support a union. This made Oklahoma the 22nd state in the union to join the ranks of Right to Work states.

Fast forward to today, and opponents of the law are still at work trying to discredit it. A recent study by the [Big Labor related] Economic Policy Institute (EPI), for example, claimed that Right to Work in Oklahoma has been a dismal failure. One of EPI’s most important pieces of evidence is that manufacturing employment is lower today than it was before Right to Work.

[However,] the EPI study did not consider whether Oklahoma’s manufacturing industry may have chosen to boost productivity instead of hiring more workers. Chart 1 shows the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the manufacturing industry from 2003 to 2010 using a growth index. Oklahoma’s manufacturing GDP has grown 45 percent in that time period, outstripping that of the average manufacturing growth in in non-Right to Work states (22 percent).

This growth in Oklahoma’s manufacturing GDP is a direct result of an increasingly productive workforce. In only a few short years, Oklahoma’s productivity growth (67 percent) soon outgrew non-Right to Work states (55 percent).

More broadly, there is other evidence that Right to Work has been good to Oklahoma’s economy. Simply look at how people are “voting with their feet.” Using data from the Internal Revenue Service, Chart 3 shows the net migration in Oklahoma of households (as proxied by taxpayers), people (as proxied by exemptions), and income (as proxied by Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI) between 1995 and 2008.

Chart 3 shows that, prior to Right to Work, Oklahoma struggled to attract residents from other states. In fact, between 1995 and 2002, Oklahoma lost 10,681 households, 3,461 people, and more than $1 billion in income. From 2003 to 2008, however, Oklahoma has gained 13,215 households, 40,693 people, and $99 million in income. More impressively, the trend line is on the way up, suggesting this in-migration will continue into the foreseeable future.

Another illustrative way to look at these data is to see from where these net in-migrants are coming. Table 1 breaks down the net in-migration between Right to Work states and non-Right to Work states since 2003. In relation to Right to Work to non-Right to Work states, Oklahoma is booming with 11,648 new households, 31,367 new people, and $385 million in new income.

In summary, we have presented new evidence that Right to Work has been a boon for Oklahoma. Manufacturing output and productivity have outpaced the competition, and people from non-Right to Work states are voting with their feet by moving to Oklahoma in increasing numbers. This evidence from Oklahoma should help convince policymakers in other non-Right to Work states that Right to Work is good economic policy. [Emphasis added]