Right to Work Kansas Ranks High in Employment


Right to Work has helped put Kansas on map for low unemployment and high labor force participation.

Megan Hart has the story in Topeka Capital Journal online.com

Kansas ranked among the 10 best states for unemployment and labor force participation in 2012, besting some states whose business climates are more often held up as models.

Kansas had the 10th-highest rate of participation in the labor force in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A person is defined as being in the labor force if he or she has a job, or has looked for one in the past four weeks. People who have given up searching for work because of discouragement or other factors aren’t counted as part of the labor force.

Kansas also tied with Utah for the 10th-lowest unemployment rate in 2012, according to BLS data.

Kansas’ business climate at the start of 2012 wasn’t held up as a model for other states. The American Legislative Exchange Council gave the state middling marks in its annual “Rich States, Poor States” analysis of states’ economic competitiveness, co-authored by economist Arthur Laffer. Laffer testified in favor of Kansas’ plans to lower income tax rates and exempt nonwage income from some types of businesses in 2012.

The latest report, published in 2012, ranked Kansas 26th in its list of states best poised for future growth. The state had ranked 27th in 2011. The 2013 report will be available later this year.

Factors considered in the report are the state’s highest personal income tax rate, highest corporate income tax rate, personal income tax progressivity (meaning how much more higher-income taxpayers pay than low-income ones), property tax burden, sales tax burden, whether the state has an estate tax, burden from other taxes, any recent tax changes, how much of tax revenue goes toward paying for debt, number of public employees per 1,000 residents, the quality of the state’s legal system, costs related to workers’ compensation, state minimum wage, whether a state has enacted right-to-work laws (meaning workers can’t be required to join a union) and whether the state has a statutory limit on taxes or expenditures.

Ronald Caldwell, an economics professor at The University of Kansas, said lower taxes and being a right-to-work state can encourage businesses to relocate to a state, but it takes substantial time because of the difficulties of moving factories or other operations over a long distance.