Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at http://www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI. “Right-to-work” laws have the largest negative impacts on construction workers, according to a new ILEPI Economic … Continue reading Construction Workers Are the Major Victims of Right-to-Work Laws
Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at http://www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI. Efforts to create local “right-to-work” zones would have negative impacts on workers and the economy in … Continue reading Local Right-to-Work Zones Would Weaken the Illinois Economy
Today, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the University of Illinois jointly released Free-Rider States: How Low-Wage Employment in “Right-to-Work” States is Subsidized by the Economic Benefits of Collective Bargaining [PDF]. The report has three main findings:
- Right-to-work laws have negative impacts on the public budget;
- Workers in collective-bargaining states are subsidizing the low-wage model used by employers in right-to-work states; and
- Illinois would have been worse off if it was a right-to-work state in 2013.
A “right-to-work” law reduces worker earnings by 3.2 percent, reduces union membership by 9.6 percentage points, reduces the share of workers covered by a health insurance plan (3.5 percentage points) and by a pension plan (3.0 percentage points), and increases the poverty rate among workers by 0.9 percentage points.
All of this has negative impacts on the public budget. Lower worker earnings decrease income tax contributions: a right-to-work law lowers the after-credit federal income tax liability of workers by 11.1 percent. Lower worker earnings also increase the chances of a worker needing to rely on government assistance programs: workers in collective-bargaining states receive 18.9 percent less in tax relief from the Earned Income Tax Credit and 14.1 percent less in food stamp value than their counterparts in right-to-work states.
Additionally, right-to-work laws have inconclusive impacts on employment. While the report finds that they are associated with a small increase in hours and weeks worked by employees, this is likely because they are forced to work more time to earn anything close to their annual income in a collective-bargaining state. Furthermore, two case-studies using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics illustrate how right-to-work states have negligible impacts on total employment:
- In March 2012, Indiana enacted right-to-work. From March 2012 through July 2014, the Indiana unemployment rate fell from 8.0 percent to 5.9 percent– a 2.1 percentage point drop. At the same time, the unemployment rate of collective-bargaining Illinois fell by 2.0 percentage points. This difference is statistically insignificant.
- In January 2013, Michigan enacted right-to-work. From January 2013 through July 2014, the Michigan unemployment rate fell from 8.9 percent to 7.7 percent– a 1.2 percentage point drop. At the same time, the unemployment rate of collective-bargaining Illinois fell by 2.4 percentage points. This difference is significant, and shows how a right-to-work law does not lead to improved employment outcomes.
Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI. This post is a response to an article written by Stan Greer of the National Institute for Labor Relations Research on February 10, 2014. The article “reported” (for lack of a better term) on a recent study conducted jointly by ILEPI and the University of Illinois. For reference, our study, Which Labor Market Institutions Reduce Income Inequality? Labor Unions, Prevailing Wage Laws, and Right-to-Work Laws in the Construction Industry can be found here [PDF] and an accompanying Illinois Insights Blog post … Continue reading On the Fallacious Argument of One Right-to-Work Advocate
Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at www.illinoisepi.org or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI. “Today, after four years of economic growth… average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead.” –President Obama in the State of the Union Address, 2014. Across the country, states and localities can respond to the President’s call to action and grow wages, create jobs, and reduce … Continue reading Income Inequality is Fixable in Construction