Michigan is poised to become the 24th right-to-work state, now that Gov. Rick Snyder has announced he will sign a right-to-work bill if it reaches his desk. Right-to-work laws prevent unions from forcing people to pay union dues as a condition of employment. They also bring jobs and growth, observes Michael LaFaive:
Of the nine states that saw the greatest population growth in that decade, six have a right-to-work law and a seventh — Colorado — enjoyed a quasi-RTW status thanks to its “labor peace act,” which makes it difficult for unions to extract fee payments from non-members in a workplace. (Right-to-work laws do not affect collective bargaining, other than to prohibit labor contracts that make union dues or fees a condition of employment.)
To be sure, many factors go into individual migration decisions (high growth states also have more days of sunshine than Michigan, for example), but scholarly studies of the issue using sophisticated statistical techniques to isolate the different factors nevertheless suggest that having right-to-work protections for employees has a positive impact on a state’s in-bound migration.
For example, a 2010 study by Mackinac Center for Public Policy adjunct scholar Richard Vedder examined other possible explanations including climate, taxes, population and the “occupational composition of the workforce,” and still concluded, “Without exception, in all the estimations, a statistically significant positive relationship … was observed between the presence of right-to-work laws and net migration.” Mackinac Center analyses of Michigan migration also discovered a “revealed preference” for right-to-work states.
My colleague James Hohman reports that from 2000 to 2009, right-to-work states gained nearly 5 million people from non-right-to-work states. From Census to Census, right-to-work states grew by 15.5 percent, while non-right-to-work states grew by only 6.1 percent. [Mackinac Center, December 5]