Census Data Shows Americans Moving To Right To Work States, Leaving Non-Right-To-Work States

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In politics we spend a lot of time debating policy in the context of ideology and philosophy. We all have our ideas about what sort of policies will and will not work. But what is perhaps the most instructive measure of a given policy is how people react to that policy.

Given that, it’s illuminating to see the differences between right-to-work states which allow workers to choose whether or not they want to join a union and non-right-to-work states where workers aren’t afforded that choice. For instance, hiring in right-to-work states since 2009 has grown three time faster than non-right-to-work states.

Which might be why, according to US Census data, Americans are moving away from non-right-to-work states to right-to-work states:

The Census data show that last year a net total of nearly 364,000 people moved out of the 28 states that at that time did not protect private-sector employees from being forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment and into one of the 22 Right to Work states. (Since the beginning of this year, two more states, Indiana and Michigan, have enacted Right to Work laws.)

That is to say, in 2011 nearly 364,000 more people moved out of forced-unionism states as a group than moved into them. And the negative correlation between compulsory dues and domestic migration is very robust. None of the 10 states experiencing the greatest net out-migration of residents in absolute terms (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio) had a Right to Work law in 2011. But seven of the eight states with the greatest net domestic in-migration in absolute numbers were Right to Work states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia). The sole exception among the top eight was low-union-density, but non-Right to Work, Colorado.

This is called “voting with your feet.” The genius of Americans federalist republic is that it tends to let people move away from bad policy and toward better policy. When policy is allowed to be set by the states, that is. It’s rather more difficult to move away from bad policy when it’s set by the federal government.

Anyway, this instructive reaction to policy by the populace is no doubt why President Obama has ordered the IRS and the Census to stop keeping this sort of data.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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