RTW States’ Manufacturing Edge


According to U.S. Commerce Department data released on June 10, last year a record 47.9% of the entire U.S. manufacturing output, measured in current dollars, occurred in states that had prohibited compulsory union dues and fees.  (A link to the entire release may be found at the end of this post.)  Stan Greer  has the story on www.nrtwc.org.

As recently as 2004, just 36.6% of the manufacturing production in the U.S. occurred in Right to Work states.

And in the wake of Wisconsin’s adoption of the 25th state Right to Work law this spring, it now seems inevitable that, when the Commerce Department issues its report next June on annual state manufacturing GDP for 2015, it will show a majority of the nation’s factory output emanating from Right to Work states.  (In 2014, Wisconsin was the source of 2.6% of all U.S. manufacturing.)

When it finally becomes official that most of American’s manufacturing production occurs in states that prohibit compulsory union dues and fees, it will simply be a landmark in a very long process. In 1984, the year Ronald Reagan was elected to his second presidential term, just 28.2% of the total current-dollar value of U.S. factory output came out of Right to Work states, then 20 in number. By 1994, halfway through Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House, the Right to Work share of U.S. manufacturing GDP had risen to 32.1%.

Right to Work’s gradual rise to dominance in domestic manufacturing output and employment is a consequence in part of the adoption of Right to Work laws in Idaho, Oklahoma, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin since 1984. But it is also a result of faster growth in Right to Work states.

From 2004 to 2014, for example, the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the whole decade experienced overall real factory output growth (in chained 2009 dollars) more than half again as great, in percentage terms, as the 26 states that lacked Right to Work protections throughout that period.