It’s impossible for any informed person to deny that there’s a robust and longstanding positive correlation between pro-Right to Work state labor policies and private-sector job growth. The positive correlation is evident over any significant time frame, regardless of which measure of employment growth you use.
For example, take the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA) accounting of private-sector employment from 1990 to 2010, the last 20 years for which this index is available. Unlike U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, BEA data track self-employment and contractual employment as well as payroll jobs.
Over the past two decades, total private-sector employment as measured by the BEA grew by 45.5% in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws protecting employees from being fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union on the books at the time. (Just this March, Indiana became the 23rd state to have a Right to Work law in effect.)
Private-sector employment in the 27 forced-unionism states grew by just 19.5%, or significantly less than half as much, from 1990 to 2010.
Even during the first decade of the current millennium, widely considered to be the worst for nationwide job growth since the 1930’s, the contrast between Right to Work and forced-unionism states remained stark. From 2000 to 2010, BEA-reported private-sector employment grew by 10.3% in the 22 Right to Work states, an increase more than five times greater than the aggregate 1.9% gain for forced-unionism states.
Eight of the top 10 states for private-sector job growth over the decade were Right to Work states. Eleven of the 13 states with the lowest job gains (or job losses) lacked Right to Work laws. Apologists for compulsory unionism rarely if ever confront such data head on.
One of their most prominent academic activists, University of Oregon “labor studies” professor Gordon Lafer, insists, without offering direct supportive evidence, that Right to Work laws have “no effect” on job growth. Sometimes, Lafer proffers as circumstantial evidence the supposed paucity of employers who publicly claim that Right to Work influences their site-selection decisions. Of course, this is a moot point.
As Lafer and his allies in Organized Labor are well aware, business owners and managers who announce that Right to Work factors into where they relocate or expand their operations court public abuse, boycotts, and vandalism by union bosses and their militant followers. Quite recently, Boeing managers’ incautious candor about the fact that their decision to expand airplane production in Right to Work South Carolina was largely motivated by their desire to be able to continue operating with nonunion employees during strikes resulted in unfair labor practice charges being filed against the company by the National Labor Relations Board.
To the extent Lafer’s contention that companies do not cite Right to Work as the basis for their site-selection decision is correct, it arguably means only that it is unwise to thumb your nose at a bully when you don’t have to. But the fact is that more and more business leaders nowadays are acknowledging, albeit in cautious language, that Right to Work is something they look for when they are choosing where to create jobs.
Yesterday, as the Washington Examiner commentary linked above shows, Allan McArtor, Airbus’s American chairman, became the latest example. McArtor was interviewed by Neil Cavuto of Fox Business News regarding Airbus’s announcement a few hours earlier that the European aerospace firm would invest $600 million to build a new airline factory in Right to Work Alabama.
As quoted by the Examiner’s Sean Higgins, McArtor circumspectly observed: “I don’t think there is any question that right-to-work states have an advantage on recruiting out-of-country or out-of-state employers. It is not a definitive reason why we chose Alabama but I don’t think there is any secret to the fact that it is an advantage.”