Population growth hard for anti-“right to work” crowd to argue with

Recently a writer in the Las Cruces Sun-News argued that claims the Rio Grande Foundation made are “hollow” like a chocolate Easter Bunny.

While it is true that data can be twisted in ways that make worker freedom look like it lowers incomes (it also lowers living costs) the reality is that people keep moving to “right to work” states. I discuss in a recent letter to the editor:

People are moving to right-to-work states

Chuck Barrett clearly is not a fan of “right to work” and my organization’s efforts to bring such laws to New Mexico.

He cites data from the Economic Policy Institute which he acknowledges is a union-funded organization to assert that “right to work” laws reduce incomes. Even Barrett acknowledges, however, that “right to work” laws do reduce unemployment.

In the real world we already know that New Mexico is a low-wage, slow-growing, high-unemployment state. It is surrounded by “right to work” states (with the exception of Colorado’s which has laws best described as not fully “right to work,” but not as pro-union as New Mexico.

We also have real-world federal data showing that Las Cruces has a 50% higher unemployment rate than “right to work” El Paso. And, since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, El Paso has seen job growth of 13.3% while Las Cruces has grew by just 1.6%.

Ultimately, the best way to cut through the data is to consider where people are moving. After all, if “right to work” is so awful, people will avoid it, right? But, when it comes to population growth “right to work” wins hands-down. Between 2010 and 2016 “right to work” states grew by 6.2% while the others grew by a mere 3.3%. Virtually any time period yields the same result with people flocking to “right to work” states over time.

“Right to work” laws are not a panacea. New Mexico’s problems are long-term and deep. But you have to start somewhere. Rather than waiting for the Legislature to act, we are working county by county to make New Mexico a little freer.

Paul Gessing

President, Rio Grande Foundation

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3 Replies to “Population growth hard for anti-“right to work” crowd to argue with”

  1. Memo to all sides in this debate: Even if right-to-work policies result in lower income for workers in the aggregate, it remains immoral to force individuals to join organizations or to fund organizations they do not wish to join or fund. Results-oriented debates drift away from this crucial point: the ends cannot justify the means.

    1. The problem is NM is LAT TO THE GAME. When only 20 states were RTW until 1984, they could use it as a way to attract businesses who didn’t want to deal with unions. Its was a competitive advantage over 30 other state. But when manufacturing powerhouses like Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin have become RTW, New Mexico has almost no chance of attracting manufacturing because we can’t offer them what Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin can offer. Plus we are First in Crime and Last in Education, what responsible CEO would want to bring hundreds or thousands of workers to NM to have their cars stolen while at work and their kids get a second or third class education, when there are now so many other RTW choices

  2. Thanks, Dallas. But Hillary said (Sort of) as long as we are trying to do the “right thing”, it’s OK if it turns wrong

    While doing public sector human resources work in the 1970s, and later hard at work to do local demographics for El Paso, TX & Dona Ana County, NM as a Planner, I discovered these counties generally have been exporters of human capital, based on births/deaths/population growth. The increase is immigration, with people hesitant to leave, for good reason – since the (foolish) elimination of the Bracero program, people have become trapped here, unable to cross borders safely. This likely resulted in/severely increased the colonias problems, also, including illegal land subdivisions.

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