Right to Work States Mean Economic Prosperity


Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Joel Griffith provide more evidence why Right to Work States’ economic power is growing in this Heritage Foundation report.

Right-to-Work Laws. On the effect of right-to-work laws, the same picture comes into sharp focus. A right-to-work law does not prohibit a union, but empowers individual workers to choose whether to join the union (and pay dues for political purposes). As of January 1, 2013, 23 states were right to work and 27 were forced union.[14] Comparing these states’ economic performance, we find:

People are moving to right-to-work states. Population growth as an equal-weighted average from 2002 to 2012 was 12.6 percent over the past decade in RTW states and only 6.5 percent in non-RTW states.[15] Over the same decade, the equal-weighted average net domestic in-migration to RTW states was 3 percent, while forced-unionization states realized an equal-weighted loss of 0.9 percent.[16] No doubt much of this population transfer occurred as people moved to where jobs are.

The right-to-work states enjoyed a jobs growth rate more than three times that of the forced-union states. Job growth was up 6.8 percent in RTW states and only 1.9 percent in non-RTW states.[17] We have examined this same data set for the past four decades, and regardless of the time period measured, the results show the same directional change in favor of right-to-work and no-income-tax states with only some variation in the magnitude of the change.

Our critics deny that these economic forces are in play, and we briefly respond to those critiques below. However, it is noteworthy that New York State, whose politicians in Albany have acted for decades like taxes do not matter, is now running ads around the country about big tax breaks to firms if they move to the Empire State. Apparently, even they now concede that tax policy influences growth. Yet Albany needs to actually change its policies, not just its public relations pitch.