‘Townies’ and ‘Gownies’ Alike Find Opportunities in Right to Work States


To explain away slow workforce growth in forced-unionism states like New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and California, Big Labor allies sometimes adopt an oddly elitist stance:  Union boss-controlled states may indeed be losing far more employees due to out-migration to the rest of the country than they are gaining due to in-migration, apologists concede, but they are doing just fine when it comes to attracting and retaining college-educated people in their working years.

Even if it were factually based, this would be a lame defense, since a well-governed polity should be hospitable to employees and job seekers regardless of how much education they have.  But the reality, as demographer and political analyst Joel Kotkin shows in a recent analysis that is linked below, is that several putatively “high brownpower” metropolises located in forced-unionism states rank near the bottom of all metro areas with more than a million people for growth in the number of people with at least a bachelor’s degree education from 2007 to 2012.

Of the 13 large metropolitan areas with the fastest growth in college-educated population, 11 (New Orleans, La.; San Antonio, Texas; Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Houston, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jacksonville, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas; and Charleston, N.C.-S.C.) are located entirely in Right to Work states.  In contrast, among the 10 metro areas with the slowest growth in holders of a bachelor degree or more, seven (Detroit, Mich.; Providence, R.I.-Mass.; Cleveland, Ohio; Boston, Mass.-N.H.; Sacramento, Calif.; New York, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa.; and Milwaukee, Wisc.) were located entirely in states that lacked Right to Work laws as of 2012.

As Kotkin makes clear, Right to Work metropolitan areas’ advantage is not just in terms of percentage growth, but also in “absolute numbers”:

Since 2007, for example, the Houston and Dallas metro areas have added more BAs than San Francisco-Oakland, and nearly twice as many as Boston. As a result, these and other such cities are gaining a critical mass in brainpower not widely recognized in the Eastern-dominated media.

It turns out that, just like less-educated Americans, holders of bachelor’s and advanced degrees are typically eager to live in areas where their paychecks go further, once regional differences in living costs are taken into account.  Overwhelmingly, Right to Work states fit the bill.

And the fact that real compensation per private-sector employee is currently higher in Right to Work states than in non-Right to Work states is no coincidence.  Where forced union dues are legal, union bosses use their power to disrupt labor markets, jack up costs, and bankroll Tax & Spend, regulation-happy state legislators and governors.

The data clearly show forced-unionism states seeking a “brain gain” should pass Right to Work laws.  Policymakers should pay heed.

Popular culture has long assumed the interests of the college-educated and other people are inevitably at odds with one another. But U.S. Census Bureau data show that holders of bachelor’s degrees and the less-educated alike are “voting with their feet” in favor of states that prohibit compulsory union dues and fees. Image: news.bbc.co.uk

America’s New Brainpower Cities