Last week, Tax Foundation blogger Lyman Stone contributed an informative five-part series on the economic significance of interstate migration by taxpayers and their dependents.
As Stone’s final post in the series (see the link below) pointed out, a number of states that have experienced “exceptional patterns of out-migration” over the years have collectively lost millions of people over the last two decades solely due to the fact that substantially more taxpayers and dependents moved out to other states than moved in from other states.
Over the same period, a number of states collectively gained millions of people due to net domestic in-migration of taxpayers.
While Stone discussed several policy- and climate-related factors that likely influence relative inflows and outflows of taxpayers and dependents in a state, he did not mention one factor that appears to be more closely correlated with taxpayer migration than any other: The presence or absence of a state Right to Work law.
As a table appearing in Stone’s post, based on IRS data, shows, from 1992 to 2011 just 60.5% of departing federal income tax filers and their dependents in forced-unionism New York were replaced by new arrivals. A smaller share of out-migrants from the Empire State were replaced by in-migrants than in any other state.
Besides New York, forced-unionism California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Ohio, Connecticut and Hawaii ranked in the bottom 11 for their ratio of domestic in-migrants to out-migrants over the past two decades. Louisiana, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was the only Right to Work state to fall among the bottom 11. (Michigan adopted the 24th state Right to Work law in December 2012, subsequent to the period covered by currently available IRS state migration data.)
Meanwhile, all of the nine states with the highest ratios of in-migrating taxpayers and dependents to out-migrating taxpayers and dependents (Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee and Texas) have Right to Work laws on the books.
Survey data have shown again and again that the strong public opposition to compulsory unionism is based primarily on principle, not on the belief that Right to Work laws facilitate job and income growth. Nevertheless, taxpayer migration data as well as a host of other economic indicators do offer evidence that the Right to Work is good for employees and businesses. Economics is thus a secondary, but still important, reason for states to enact Right to Work laws.