All 10 States Suffering Young-Adult Population Declines Over Past Decade Lack Right to Work Laws

In the 22 states that had Right to Work laws on the books throughout the 2002-2012 period, the total population aged 25-34 (that is, people in their career-building years) increased by 11.2%, or nearly double the national average. Image: The App Trail

U.S. Census Bureau data released this past week (see the link above) report for the first time on age-aggregated population totals for the 50 states in 2012.  The Census Bureau also released revised data for earlier years.

In assessing each state’s economic climate, population data for adults aged 25-34 are especially significant.  This is the time of life when people are building their careers, and many move from state to state with the aim of improving their living standards.

The last decade for which data are available show that Right to Work states continue to benefit from a massive net migration of young adults and their children out of forced-unionism states.

From 2002 to 2012, the number of 25-34 year-olds living in the 22 states that had Right to Work laws throughout the period increased from 15.47 million to 17.20 million, or 11.2%.  Meanwhile, the young-adult population of the 27 forced-unionism states increased by just 2.5%.  (Since Indiana switched from forced-unionism to Right to Work in 2012, it is excluded).

Although nationwide the 25-34 year-old population increased by 6.0%, 10 states (Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia) suffer young-adult population declines.  Not one had a Right to Work law from 2002 to 2012, although Michigan passed a ban on forced union dues in December 2012 that took effect this spring.  Six of the eight states with the greatest percentage increases in young-adult population have longstanding Right to Work laws.

State population trends for people aged 17 and under show that young adults with children (or who are planning to have them in the near future) are even more apt to move out of forced-unionism states than are other young adults.  I will discuss the state population data for “under 18’s” in a future blog post.