Considered together, age-grouped state population data for 2015 released by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday and comparable data for 2005 show that, over the past decade, the total population of people in their peak-earning years (aged 35-54) for the 25 states that still lacked Right to Work protections for employees in 2015 fell from 46.77 million to 43.88 million. That represents a decline of roughly 2.9 million, or 6.2%. (West Virginia became the 26th Right to Work state only this year.)
Meanwhile, the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books for the entire decade from 2005 to 2015 saw their aggregate peak earning-year population grow from 32.96 million to 33.98 million, or 3.1%.
(To locate the relevant data, use the two links below. The 2005 data are available in Table 21 of the 2007 Statistical Abstract.)
The negative correlation between forced-unionism status and peak earning-year population growth is quite robust. Among the 47 states that were either Right to Work or forced-unionism for the whole period between 2005 and 2015, the 10 states experiencing the most severe peak earning-year population losses in percentage terms (Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia) are all forced unionism.
Meanwhile, among the 10 top-ranking states for peak earning-year population growth since 2005, nine (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah) have longstanding Right to Work laws. The sole exception is Colorado, and even the Centennial State prohibits forced union dues and fees in the public sector.
Nationwide, from 2005 to 2015, the number of 35-54 year-olds fell by 2.57 million. Had the decline in the 25 states that still lacked Right to Work protections in 2015 been only as severe as the national average, they would have had roughly 1. 5 million more residents in their peak-earning years as of last year.
The obvious and correct explanation for the Census Bureau data is that breadwinners, along with their families, are moving in droves to Right to Work states. Working men and women find that they can provide better for their families in Right to Work states, with their generally higher real incomes and lower living costs.
U.S. Commerce Department data, adjusted for regional differences in the cost of living with an index created by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, a state government agency, show that in 2015 the average disposable income per capita was $2900 higher in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states.
Union propagandists often grossly understate, or forget about altogether, regional cost-of-living differences when they are debating living standards in Right to Work vs. non-Right to Work states. What’s hardest of all for Big Labor to explain away is the fact that, when they have a choice, working-age people clearly prefer to live in Right to Work states.