On June 6, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reported 2012 data for annual gross domestic product (GDP) in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, plus revised data for several previous years.
The data show that, from 2002 to 2012, the combined real output of the 22 states that had Right to Work laws protecting employees from the forced-union-dues provisions in federal labor law grew by 21.6%.
That’s a full 8.5 percentage points more than the combined 2002-2012 growth of the 27 states that did not protect employees from forced union dues. (Since Indiana became the 23rd Right to Work state in early 2012, it is excluded from this analysis. Michigan, whose Right to Work law did not take effect until this spring, is counted as a forced-unionism state.)
To put it another way, had the entire country grown by as much as the Right to Work states did over just this 10-year period, by 2012 our national GDP would have been $14.053 trillion in constant, “chained” 2005 dollars, roughly $620 billion above the actual figure.
The negative correlation between forced unionism and economic growth is quite robust. Of the 10 states with the lowest 2002-2012 real GDP growth (or negative growth), not one has a Right to Work law. But 12 of the 17 states with the highest real GDP growth are Right to Work states.