Study: Right-to-work laws related to positive economic growth in US states

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Right-to-work laws have an overall positive impact on the economy of states that adopt them, according to a study released today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.   

The study measured each state’s economic performance based on annual growth rates in employment, inflation-adjusted personal income, and population growth. The data span a 64-year period beginning in 1947, following federal changes that allowed states to give workers the choice of whether to support unions as a condition of employment.  The study also controlled for factors within states that may be correlated with economic growth.

The researchers found that from 1947 through 2011, right-to-work laws increased average annual employment and real personal income growth by 0.8 percentage points, and average annual population growth by 0.5 percentage points in a state, all statistically significant differences from growth rates in states without these laws.

Florida is among the 24 states with a right-to-work law. Article 1, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution preserves the right of employees to bargain collectively through labor organizations, but makes clear that “the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged” based on labor union participation.

Karen Cyphers, PhD, is a public policy researcher, political consultant, and mother to three daughters.  She can be reached at