U.S. Census Bureau data released just before Christmas show that 44 of the 50 states experienced overall population increases last year. (See the news account linked below for more information.) But many states are home to steadily decreasing numbers of residents under age 18. And declines in youth population are closely correlated with a lack of Right to Work protections for employees.
In the 26 states where forced union dues are still legally authorized today, the aggregate population aged 17 and under fell from 40.16 million in 2004 to 38.60 million in 2014. That represents a 3.9% decline, or nearly 1.6 million in absolute terms. Meanwhile, the overall youth population of the 22 states that have had Right to Work laws since 2004 increased from 29.10 million to 31.06 million, or 6.7%. (Since the Indiana and Michigan Right to Work laws took effect only in 2012 and 2013, respectively, they are excluded from this analysis.)
Twelve of the 13 states with the greatest percentage gains in “17 and under” population since 2004 (Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) are Right to Work states. And even Colorado, the only forced-unionism state in the top 13, prohibits forced union dues in the public sector.)
Meanwhile, among the 12 states with the greatest percentage youth population declines, 11 (Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) remain forced-unionism today, and one (Michigan) was forced-unionism until two years ago.
The only plausible explanation for these data is that young adults with children, as well as those who expect to have children soon, are much more apt to move out of forced-unionism states and into Right to Work states than vice versa. Unfortunately, demographers have up to now devoted very little effort to ascertaining why this is so.
But it is reasonable to guess the most important factor is that Right to Work states offer employees of all educational backgrounds jobs that enable them to provide better living standards for their families, when regional differences in cost of living are taken into consideration.