Business Insider has published a map that graphically illustrates the reality that 50% of the U.S. GDP is generated in just 22 urban areas—Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St.Paul, Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Miami:
It is worth pointing out that only the last six of those 22 urban areas are in “right to work” states—that despite the supposed economic advantages of the Sun Belt, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the Pacific Coast still have the largest number of economically dynamic urban areas in the country.
But beyond that broad observation, two other points need to be emphasized.
First, with the exception of Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix, these urban areas are among the most progressive areas of their states, whether they are in pro-labor or “right to work” states.
Second, ahead of the recent UAW vote in Tennessee, Far Right groups took out television, newspaper, and billboard advertisements highlighting the urban blight in Detroit and suggesting that a pro-unionization vote would be tantamount to bringing Tennessee’s economy to a similarly ruinous state. The city of Detroit has some very serious and undeniable problems, but the unionized auto industry has remained an economic mainstay in the broader Detroit metropolitan area, whose GDP is the 14th highest among U.S. metropolitan areas.
So the proponents of unionization might have countered the Far Right’s anti-union propaganda with some real numbers. The GDP of metropolitan Detroit is $208,379,000,000; the GDP of the entire state of Tennessee is $250,300,000,000. The population of metropolitan Detroit is 4,292,060, while the population of Tennessee is 6,495,978. So the per capita GDP for the state of Tennessee is $38,539, while the per capita GDP for metropolitan Detroit is $48,549.
Unionization would not have guaranteed a $10,000 per year raise for the workers at the Volkswagen plant, but any argument that their vote against unionization was a vote in their economic self-interest is an argument put forth by people whose political ideology and economic self-interest demanded that they misrepresent what was at stake for those workers.
Previous posts in this series have included:
Part 1: Population Growth and Movement: https://academeblog.org/2013/04/03/2666/
Part 2: Immigration: https://academeblog.org/2013/04/21/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-2/
Part 3: Unemployment Rates, by State: https://academeblog.org/2013/04/30/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-3/
Part 4: Historic Highs and Lows in Unemployment, by State: https://academeblog.org/2013/05/05/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-4/
Part 5: Employment in Manufacturing: https://academeblog.org/2013/05/10/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-5/
Part 6: Loss of Employment in Manufacturing, before and during the Great Recession: https://academeblog.org/2013/07/21/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-part-6/
Part 7: Right to Work by the Numbers: GDP by State and GDP per Capita by State: https://academeblog.org/2013/12/16/right-to-work-by-the-numbers-gdp-by-state-and-gdp-per-capita-by-state/
My other posts on “right to work” have included:
“Right to Work Isn’t Going Away, at Least for the Moment”: https://academeblog.org/2012/09/07/right-to-work-isnt-going-away-at-least-for-the-moment/
“Right to Work Is an Insult to Intelligence”: https://academeblog.org/2012/12/11/right-to-work-is-an-insult-to-intelligence/
“Right to Work Is an Insult to Intelligence, Addendum”: https://academeblog.org/2012/12/12/right-to-work-is-an-insult-to-intelligence-addendum/
“Right to Work Introduced in the Ohio House”: https://academeblog.org/2013/05/01/right-to-work-bills-introduced-in-ohio-house/