For many years prior to Michigan’s implementation of the 24th state Right to Work law this past spring, U.S. Census Bureau data and data from independent private sources such as the United Van Lines (UVL) moving company showed that far Americans were moving out of the Wolverine State than were moving into it.
For example, the UVL’s annual migration study showed that, among the company’s customers, Michigan experienced substantial net domestic out-migration every year from 1997 through 2012, and from 2006 to 2009 the “inbound” share of its interstate moves was smaller than any other state’s.
Proponents of passing a Right to Work law in then-forced unionism Michigan frequently contended that labor policy was an important factor in the state’s ongoing losses of working-age people and their family members to other states.
But apologists for compulsory unionism such as Gordon Lafer, a former union organizer who is now a labor-studies professor at the University of Oregon and a research associate with the Big Labor-backed Economic Policy Institute (EPI), loudly insisted there was no connection.
In a September 2011 EPI paper opposing passage of a Michigan Right to Work law, Lafer dismissed data showing a strong correlation between Right to Work status and domestic in-migration. He insisted the data could be explained by people’s preferences for warmer climates and lower housing costs.
Since forced-unionism Michigan’s housing costs were far below average, in this state’s particular case the mortgages-and-rents factor explains nothing. That leaves only weather, according to Lafer.
But did Michigan’s climate suddenly get a lot better in 2013? This has nowhere been reported. And if not, how does Lafer account for the fact that this year, suddenly, the “migration out of Michigan has finally slowed to a virtual halt”?
This is what the Associated Press, which UVL has granted an advance look at is 2013 study, is now reporting. (See the link below.)
The 2013 study itself will not be available to the public until January 2. However, Michigan’s remarkable turnaround is already the subject of a substantial amount of media commentary. It now seems very likely that, in 2014, the first full calendar year in which Michigan’s Right to Work law will have been in effect, the UVL study will show it to be a net recipient of people from other states.
It is predictable that Lafer and his ilk will dismiss all UVL, U.S. Census, and other data showing that Right to Work Michigan is a far more hospitable place for working-age people and their families than was forced-unionism Michigan as coincidental. But other people whose minds are more open may well come to a different conclusion.