New Hampshire: The Fight Continues

Despite a set back in New Hampshire, Right to Work supporters, including the Speaker of the State House, have pledged to continue to press for the first Right to Work law in New England. New Hampshire’s Union Leader newspaper thinks that is a good idea:

It’s a lot easier to win a complicated economic debate when you simply assert things that are misleading. That’s how labor union supporters in the House of Representatives defeated the right-to-work bill yesterday.Opponents of the bill have claimed it is part of a “job-killing agenda.”

In fact, data show very clearly that unemployment is lower on average in right-to-work states than in non-right-to-work states. (New Hampshire is an exception in part because we have relatively little unionized labor.)

“In 1990, the average jobless rate was 5.1 percent in right-to-work states and 5.6 percent in other states,” Bloomberg columnist Amity Shlaes noted in August. “In 2000, it was 3.8 percent in right-to-work states and 4.1 percent in others. In July 2011, unemployment was 8.1 percent in right-to-work states and 8.4 percent in others.”

That is not to say that all of the difference can be attributed to right-to-work laws. But they are a positive, not a negative, factor in job growth.

Opponents also tried to blame right-to-work laws for significantly lower wages. They conveniently ignored that right-to-work states tend to be in the South and West, where wages are lower because cost of living is lower. Adjust for cost of living, and much of the wage discrepancy disappears.

House Speaker Bill O’Brien has said right-to-work would come up again. If so, legislators should stick next time to the facts.