Seventeen of the 19 Cities Where ‘African-Americans Are Doing the Best Economically’ Are Located Entirely in Right to Work States

On Monday Americans commemorated the birth of Martin Luther King and his tireless efforts to combat racial prejudice and ensure equal access to economic opportunities for all.

Obviously, there remains substantial disagreement among Americans regarding the best means to help every person who needs a job or wants to start a business, regardless of his or her race or ethnicity, compete on a level playing field.  But ample evidence indicates that compulsory unionism is a major hindrance for all kinds of people seeking to realize their economic aspirations.

In an analysis published late last week on his web site (see the link below) and in Forbes magazine, economic demographer Joel Kotkin discusses an analysis he and his associates recently conducted to assess “which of America’s 52 largest metropolitan areas present African-Americans with the best opportunities.”

How did the Kotkin team decide which cities are best for African-Americans from an economic perspective?  He explains:

We weighed these metropolitan statistical areas by three critical factors — homeownership, entrepreneurship, as measured by the self-employment rate, and median household income  — that we believe are indicators of  middle-class success. Data for those is from 2013. In addition, we added a fourth category, demographic trends, measuring the change in the African-American population from 2000 to 2013 in these metro areas, to judge how the community is “voting with its feet.” Each factor was given equal weight.

According to these simple criteria, metropolitan areas located in states where people may legally be fired, or never hired in the first place, for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union constitute the overwhelming majority of the “worst” cities for African-Americans from an economic perspective.  Of the 20 bottom-ranking metropolitan areas, 19 are located entirely in states that did not have Right to Work laws prior to 2012,  and 14 are located in states that still lack Right to Work protections today.

Meanwhile, of the 19 top-ranking metropolitan areas for African-Americans, 17 are located entirely in Right to Work states, and one (the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area) is located partially in Right to Work Virginia.  Moreover, in the only two top-ranking metropolitan areas not located entirely within Right to Work states (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.), as Kotkin points out, the federal government is a key source of high-wage jobs.

When Congress first approved the pro-union monopoly National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), the forerunner to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), in 1933, NAACP cofounder W.E.B. Du Bois immediately recognized the new law would be a disaster for African-Americans.  He blasted American Federation of Labor (AFL) union officials “for having lied brazenly about their attitude toward Negro labor.”  Du Bois explained:  “They have affirmed and still affirm that they wish to organize Negro labor when this is a flat and proven falsehood.  They do not wish to organize Negroes.  They keep Negroes out of every single organization when they can.”

Decades of experience have borne out the prescience of Du Bois and other African-American leaders of his time who imposed the institution of government-sanctioned union monopolies.  Of course, in recent decades many African-American leaders have found it convenient to draw upon Big Labor’s forced dues-fueled political power and money, and thus made their peace with compulsory unionism.  But they shouldn’t pretend that this system is good for the people they purport to represent.  The facts indicate otherwise.

Economic demographer Joel Kotkin views home ownership and self-employment rates, median household incomes and “foot voting” in favor of a city as key indicators of whether African-Americans are succeeding economically there. Image: Aaron Salcido/Zocalo Public Square

The Cities Where African-Americans Are Doing The Best Economically