Right to Work, by the Numbers: Part 3

Unemployment Rates by State

In the first two posts in this series, I made the case the claim that the population shift from the “Rust Belt” to the “Sun Belt” has not been driven by a preference for “right to work” states over pro-labor states, and I examined the degree to which population growth in the “Sun Belt” has been driven by immigration, which is eroding, rather than reinforcing, the anti-union sentiment in the “right to work” states in the “Sun Belt.”

In this post, I’d like to examine basic unemployment rates, state by state. What follows is the rate for March 2013, with the “right to work” states indicated in bold.

Nevada   9.7  
Illinois 9.5
California 9.4
Mississippi       9.4  
North Carolina       9.2  
Rhode Island 9.1
New Jersey 9.0
Indiana       8.7  
Michigan       8.5  
Georgia       8.4  
South Carolina       8.4  
New York 8.2
Oregon 8.2
Connecticut 8.0
Kentucky 8.0
Arizona       7.9  
Pennsylvania 7.9
Tennessee       7.9  
United States     7.6
Florida       7.5  
Delaware 7.3
Washington 7.3
Alabama       7.2  
Arkansas       7.2  
Colorado 7.1
Maine 7.1
Ohio 7.1
Wisconsin 7.1
West Virginia 7.0
New Mexico 6.9
Missouri 6.7
Maryland 6.6
Massachusetts 6.4
Texas       6.4  
Alaska 6.2
Idaho       6.2  
Louisiana       6.2  
New Hampshire 5.7
Kansas       5.6  
Montana 5.6
Minnesota 5.4
Virginia       5.3  
Hawaii 5.1
Oklahoma       5.0  
Iowa       4.9  
Wyoming       4.9  
Utah       4.9  
South Dakota       4.3  
Vermont 4.1
Nebraska       3.8  
North Dakota       3.3  

The premise of “right to work” legislation is that it increases employment by attracting business. Yet, six of the ten states with the highest unemployment rates in March 2013 were “right to work” states. Even if one grants that Indiana and Michigan have recently become “right to work” states, there is still an even split between “right to work” and pro-labor states.

Likewise, 18 states had unemployment rates above the national average. Nine are “right to work” states, and nine are pro-labor states.

Several other things seem worth noting about these rates. Mississippi, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina all have higher unemployment rates than New York. Arizona and Pennsylvania have the same rate, and even more surprisingly, Massachusetts and Texas have the same rate. And Ohio and Wisconsin have much lower rates than Michigan and Indiana, even though all four states elected GOP governors and legislatures in 2010.

“Right to work” proponents will, no doubt, rush to point out that eight of the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates are “right to work.” I will address that issue in the next post in this series.

13 thoughts on “Right to Work, by the Numbers: Part 3

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  7. Pingback: “Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 10: Unemployment Rates in August 2015 | The Academe Blog

  8. Pingback: “Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 11: Adult Obesity Rates | The Academe Blog

  9. Pingback: “Right to Work” by the Numbers: Part 12: Unemployment Rates in Mid-December 2015 | The Academe Blog

  10. Pingback: “Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 13: Poverty Rates in 2014 | The Academe Blog

  11. Pingback: “Right to Work,” by the Numbers: Part 15 | ACADEME BLOG

  12. Pingback: “Right to Work,” By the Numbers: Part 14 | Ohio Labor

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