If U.S. Unemployment Really Is 7.8%, White House Has State Right to Work Laws to Thank


IBD Editors: Even if Obama did cook the jobs numbers, they still stink.  Investor’s Business Daily

States and selected areas: Employment status of the

Since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, all of the nine states with the largest percentage gains in civilian employment have Right to Work laws on the books. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)


The latest monthly report by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on nationwide employment and unemployment has been hotly debated since it was issued early in the morning on Friday, October 5.

On the re-election campaign trail, Democratic President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are citing the BLS’s finding that nationwide unemployment fell from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September as powerful evidence that the White House’s economic policies are working. Meanwhile, critics of the Obama Administration suggest that the extraordinary one-month rise of 873,000 in the household employment survey, which effectively explains the entire September drop in joblessness, is the spurious product of an unrepresentative survey sample. A few Administration foes even suggest the White House pressured BLS staffers into cooking the books. (See the first link above.)

But for all the ink spilled trumpeting or belittling Friday’s report from the BLS, to our knowledge no one has called attention to the fact that, to the extent there has been significant growth in employment since the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, it has been heavily concentrated in states with Right to Work laws prohibiting forced union dues and fees as a condition of employment on the books.

This is ironic, because the very Obama Administration that is seizing on the BLS report as proof that the economic recovery is gaining momentum is also a venomous foe of state Right to Work statutes. As recently as this Labor Day, both the President and the Vice President publicly attacked Right to Work laws, claiming without offering any concrete evidence that they are bad for employees.

The fact is, the Obama team, as ungrateful as it is, owes the 23 Right to Work states for the vast majority of the employment recovery America experienced from June 2009 through August 2012, the last month for which state data are available. Were it not for the impact of the Right to Work states, it would be impossible for Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden to speak of any recovery at all. (See the second link above for the relevant federal data.)

During this 26-month period, employment among the civilian noninstitutional population in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws for the entire time (Indiana became the 23rd Right to Work state early this year) increased by more than 1.6 million, or 3.0%. Meanwhile, employment in the 27 remaining forced-unionism states grew by roughly 450,000, or 0.6% in percentage terms. In other words, forced-unionism states experienced only one-fifth as much employment growth as Right to Work states.

Among the top nine states for percentage employment growth in this period (Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) have Right to Work laws. But nine of the 12 bottom-ranking states lack Right to Work laws.

The Obama campaign is trying to take the credit for job growth in Right to Work states, even after denouncing Right to Work laws and appointing a series of pro-forced unionism zealots to the National Labor Relations Board and other powerful federal bureaucracies. If Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and their advisors are smart, they won’t let their electoral rivals get away it.