State Right to Work Laws Good For Counties’ ‘Health’

An AP report out this morning (see the first link below) sounded the alarm about the fact that, for the first time ever, more than one in three counties across the U.S. are experiencing more deaths than births.  As the report pointed out, one key reason why many counties are, as the headline used for most newspaper and Internet versions of the story provocatively puts it, “dying off” is “weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.”

Reporter Hope Yen enlisted Brookings Institution demographer William Frey to comment on the recent trends.  “The brakes that were on put on migration during the Great Recession appear to be easing up,” Frey told Yen.  He added:

Native migrants are becoming more “footloose” — following the geographic ups and downs of the labor market — than are immigrants, who have tended to locate in established ethnic communities in big cities.

One notable fact missed by the AP story is that the counties benefiting most from in-migration of “footloose” career-builders are located overwhelmingly in Right to Work states.  As the second link below shows, 47 of the 49 fastest-growing counties with 10,000 or more population in 2012 are located in Right to Work states.  The 15 Right to Work states with one or more counties in the top 49 (North Dakota, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, Kansas, Alabama, Texas, Iowa, Florida, South Dakota, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah) are geographically, demographically and economically diverse.  What they all have in common is laws on the books prohibiting the termination of employees for refusal to join or pay dues to an unwanted union.

Census shows record 1 in 3 US counties are dying off

Resident Population Estimates for the 100 Fastest Growing U.S. Counties with 10,000 or More Population in 2012: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012 (CO-EST2012-FGC) [XLS – 44k] | [CSV – 7k]