Right-To-Work States Have More Job Growth & Higher Incomes

A new study by the Mackinac Center shows that right-to-work states saw higher improvements in employment, income, and population growth than non-right-to-work states over the past six decades.

Right-to-work laws prohibit employees from being forced to join a union or pay union fees.

As the Goldwater Institute points out, “For unions, right-to-work laws mean they have to actually fight to retain customers – no more guaranteed income. But with most unions, fighting for customer retention doesn’t mean lowering membership fees or increasing services. It means pressuring lawmakers and slighting members.”

The following 24 US states currently have right-to-work laws:


The Mackinac Center study looked at data ranging from 1947 through 2011, but divided that data into three time periods: 1947-1970, 1971-1990, and 1991-2011. The study’s authors chose to examine such a substantial period of time because right-to-work laws can take up to a decade to effect a state’s economy in an observable way.

Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, is one of the study’s authors. He said, “As Michigan is the most recent state to adopt a right-to-work law, we thought it valuable to take a fresh look at the data. What we found generally comports with other scholarship on the subject. Adopting a right-to-work statute can increase the economic well-being of a state.”

The study found that right-to-work laws had virtually no impact on job growth or personal income during the first studied time period, 1947-1970. However, the following two time periods were positively impacted by the laws.

As reported by the Heartland Institute, “On average, over the entire 64-year period, the study finds that right-to-work laws increased annual real personal income growth in the average right-to-work state by 0.8 percentage points and population growth by 0.5 percentage points. Right-to-work laws boosted average annual employment growth in the average right-to-work state on the whole as well, registering an average bump of 0.8 percentage points, as measured from 1971-2011.”

Michael Hicks, Ph.D., was another co-author of the study. He pointed out that even though those percentages may seem low, they are indeed significant. Hicks said, “These results may appear modest, but the cumulative effect of right-to-work laws appears to have dramatically boosted the standard of living in the states which have adopted it.”

Evidence continues to appear supporting the claim that right-to-work laws positively impact citizens and their communities. In the face of such evidence, when will the remaining 26 states, which currently have no right-to-work laws, get on board?