Young Employees Thrive in Right to Work States

(Source: March 2011 NRTWC Newsletter)

Millions Have ‘Voted With Their Feet’ For Better Opportunities

For a combination of reasons, nationwide the number of young adults aged 25-34 is growing far more slowly than is the number of Americans aged 55 and older.

In 1999, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 37.94 million people aged 25-34 living in the U.S. By 2009, there were 41.57 million people nationwide in that age bracket. That’s a 9.6% increase. Over the same decade, the number of Americans aged 55 and older soared from 57.93 million to 74.36 million, a whopping 28.4% increase!

The nationwide decline in young employees’ population share, relative to that of Americans nearing or in their retirement years, is obviously an impediment to economic growth.

Eleven Non-Right to Work  States Suffered Young-Adult Population Declines

But not all states have been equally affected by the trend. Many have attracted enough young people from other states to achieve young-adult population growth faster than the nation’s overall 12.6% population growth from 1999 to 2009.

And the single most important factor behind whether young people are “voting with their feet” by moving into a state is the presence of a Right to Work law.

In the Right to Work states as a group, the number of 25-34 year-olds increased by 20.0% — more than double the national average — between 1999 and 2009. (Oklahoma, which adopted its Right to Work law in 2001, is counted here as a Right to Work state for the entire period.)

Meanwhile, the 28 states without Right to Work laws collectively saw their 25-34 year-old population grow by just 3.3% — barely over a third of the national average.

Eleven states (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia) endured absolute declines. Not one of these states has a Right to Work law.

Generally, the greatest gains in young-adult population occurred in the eight Rocky Mountain states. But within this region, the five Right to Work states enjoyed an aggregate percentage increase nearly half again as great as that of forced-unionism states.

National Right to Work Law Would Widen Success

State Right to Work laws prohibit forcing private- and public-sector employees to join or pay dues or so-called “agency” fees to an unwanted union as a condition of employment.

Unless private-sector, front-line employees are protected by a state Right to Work law, they are subject to the provisions in federal labor law that authorize and promote the firing of employees for refusal to pay union dues or fees.

“Right to Work laws’ core function is safeguarding the individual employee’s freedom of choice,” commented National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen. “They are also strongly correlated with higher living standards.”

As evidence, Mr. Leen cited a study of cost of living-adjusted household incomes for all recognized metropolitan areas in the U.S. by Dr. Barry Poulson, past president of the North American Economics and Finance Association.

Dr. Poulson found that, when the number of households in each metro area is factored into the equation, the average cost of living-adjusted household income in Right to Work state metro areas was roughly $4400 higher than in non-Right to Work state metro areas.

Both to protect the freedom of millions of employees who are still subject to forced unionism and to widen the economic success now being experienced by Right to Work states, said Mr. Leen, America needs a national Right to Work law.

“Right to Work states have certainly benefited from the talents of the millions of young employees and entrepreneurs they have welcomed over the years due to the detrimental impact of federally imposed forced union dues,” he acknowledged.

“But these benefits come at too great a cost to America’s overall prosperity. It is a price our country can’t afford to go on paying.”