From 2003-2013, Private-Sector Payroll Employment Grew More Than Twice as Fast in Right to Work States as in Forced-Unionism States


Earlier today, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued its estimates for total annual 2013 private-sector payroll employment in the 50 states.  The BLS simultaneously released an array of other jobs data for 2013 and revised data for a number of previous years.  (See the link below for more information.)

For well over a decade, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has tracked BLS private-sector job growth trends, in Right to Work and in forced-unionism states, for the latest 10 years for which data are available. The first analysis (covering 1991-2001) and every subsequent analysis have shown a substantial advantage for Right to Work states.

For 2003-2013, this is once again the case.  Over the most recent decade for which BLS annual data are available, private-sector payroll employment in Right to Work states grew by 9.2%.  Meanwhile, forced-unionism states experienced a far smaller overall increase of 4.0%.

(Because Indiana and Michigan recently adopted Right to Work laws that took effect in February 2012 and March 2013, respectively, they are excluded from this analysis.)

The negative correlation between forced unionism and long-term employment growth is robust.  Nine of the 11 bottom-ranking states for 2003-2013 private-sector payroll job growth lack Right to Work laws.  But eight of the 11 top-ranking states have longstanding  Right to Work protections for employees.

Over the past couple of years, the Institute has tracked the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data for total private-sector employment as well as the BLS data. Unlike BLS statistics, BEA statistics measure self-employment and contractual employment as well as payroll jobs.

BEA employment data for 2013 won’t be published until this fall.  But the BEA’s broader analysis of private-sector job growth for 2002-2012 shows an even wider and more robust Right to Work advantage than do the BLS data for that period.  From 2002 to 2012, BEA-reported private-sector employment grew by 15.3%, eight percentage points higher than the 7.3% average for forced-unionism states.  All of the top five, and nine of the top 10,  states for 2002-2012 BEA-reported private-employment growth are Right to Work states.   Meanwhile, the 11 bottom-ranking states for 2002-2012 BEA-reported job growth all lacked Right to Work laws at the time.

The BEA’s private-sector compensation and other personal income data for 2013 will be published late this month.  Shortly thereafter, the Institute will report on 2003-2013 private-sector compensation trends in Right to Work and forced-unionism states.

Over the past decade, private-sector employment increased by 9.2% in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the whole period. That’s well over double the aggregate 4.0% gain for the 26 states that still lack Right to Work protections for employees. Image: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, file

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