‘Peak Earners’ Ditch Forced-Dues States

Thanks to the impact of the 27 current Right to Work laws, which protect roughly half of all American employees, the U.S. attracts many additional opportunity-creating business investments from around the world. Credit: Charles Brooks, Birmingham News (AL) adapted by NRTWC

Choose to Live Where They Can Better Provide For Their Families

Union propagandists often grossly understate, or altogether “forget” about, regional cost-of-living differences when they are debating living standards in Right to Work states vs. forced-unionism states.

Downplaying or ignoring this key issue makes it easier to hide the economically disastrous effects of compulsory unionism.

But no matter how vociferously Big Labor tries to insist that corralling workers into monopolistic unions somehow makes them richer, there is one unimpeachable fact that union spokesmen have extraordinary difficulty explaining away:

When they have a choice, working-age people prefer not to live in forced-unionism states.

Over the Past Decade, Forced-Dues States’ Peak-Earning-Year Population Fell by 7.9%

Considered together, age-grouped state population data for 2018 released by the U.S. Census Bureau to the general public on June 20 and comparable data for 2008 tell an important story.

They show that, over the past decade, the total population of people in their peak-earning years (aged 35-54) for the 23 states that have yet to adopt and implement a Right to Work law, barring the termination of employees for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union, fell from 44.78 million to 41.26 million.

That represents a decline of roughly 3.5 million, or 7.9%.

Nationwide, the peak-earning-year population fell by 4.6% from 2008 to 2018 as a consequence of the aging of the Baby Boomers, but in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books the whole time, there was no overall net decline at all.

And the correlation between forced-unionism status and peak-earning-year population decline is quite robust.

Among the 44 states that were either Right to Work or forced-unionism for the whole period from 2008 to 2018, the 12 states experiencing the most severe percentage losses are: Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. They are all forced-unionism.

Fifteen of the 17 bottom-ranking states are non-Right to Work.

Had the decline in the 23 states that still don’t have Right to Work laws today been only as severe as the national average, they would have had roughly 1.5 million more residents in their peak-earning years as of 2018.

Cost of Living-Adjusted Income Per Capita More Than $1,300 Higher in Right Work States

National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb commented:

“The obvious and correct explanation for the Census Bureau data is that breadwinners, along with their families, are fleeing forced-unionism states in droves.

“Working men and women find again and again that they cannot provide as well for their families in such states as they can in Right to Work states, with their generally higher real incomes and lower living costs.”

Mr. Kalb pointed to U.S. Commerce Department data, adjusted for regional differences in cost of living with an index calculated by the nonpartisan Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

They show that, in 2018, the four lowest-ranking states for disposable income per capita all lacked Right to Work laws. They also show the average cost of living-adjusted disposable income per capita in Right to Work states last year was $45,587, more than $1,300 higher than the forced-unionism average.

Mr. Kalb commented: “Union bosses know full well that large compulsory-unionism states like California and New York are far more expensive than the national average. But they can’t admit it in the context of the Right to Work debate, without torpedoing their economic argument.

“And higher living costs and slow job growth are not the only economic ills pushing breadwinners in forced-unionism states to seek better opportunities in Right to Work states.

“Another albatross for forced-dues states is nearly $23,200 per capita in unfunded liabilities of public pension plans, according to data published in a recent American Legislative Exchange Council analysis. That’s a per capita burden nearly $10,000 more severe than the average for Right to Work states.”