In an historic milestone for the rights of American workers to decide whether to join labor unions, Michigan became a “right to work” state today over the protests of thousands of union workers and teachers. Despite those protests (some of which turned violent), Michigan’s new status as the 24th right-to-work state is a victory for the Michigan economy, the individual freedom of workers, and the taxpayers of Michigan.
In a stop yesterday in Michigan, President Obama repeated his frequent pro-labor union mantra that the “right-to-work” has “nothing to do with economics” and “everything to do with politics.” Let me suggest exactly the opposite - that the “right-to-work” has nothing at all to do with politics, and almost everything to do with the economics of job creation. Rather, it’s forced unionism that has everything to do with politics, and consequently everything to do with job destruction. Here’s why:
The chart above (data here) shows that since the recession ended in June 2009, more than two jobs have been created in right-to-work (RTW) states for every one job created in forced unionism states (2.16 million jobs in RTW states vs. 1.05 million jobs in forced unionism states). And when you consider that the population of forced unionism states (141.4 million) is 1.38 times larger than the population of RTW states (102.6 million), that means that RTW states are creating jobs at almost three times ((2.16m / 1.05m) x 1.38) the pace as in forced unionism states. We could also say that forced unionism states would have created close to three million jobs (2.16 m x 1.38) if those states had added new jobs at the same rate as RTW states over the last three years, instead of the 1.05 million increase. In other words, there are about 2 million “missing jobs” in forced unionism states that have much to do with the politics of forced unionism.
Further evidence of a better labor market in RTW states is provided by the fact that the October jobless rate in RTW states at 7.4% is a full point lower than the jobless rate for forced-unionism states at 8.4%. If the forced unionism states had a 7.4% jobless rate, it would mean that more than 800,000 currently unemployed workers in those states would be working today, instead of seeking employment.
Bottom Line: Maximizing job opportunities for all Americans should be the main priority for President Obama, the state of Michigan, and the nation. The data show that RTW states are doing a much better job serving workers than forced unionism states, by creating more jobs since the recession ended by a factor of three (adjusted for the population), which has helped bring the jobless rate of RTW states to a full percentage point below their forced unionism counterparts. It’s a great day for Michigan as it joins the states that are truly pro-worker and pro-job creation.