Right to Work States Now Dominate U.S. Automotive Manufacturing

Though the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has yet to issue its estimates for manufacturing output of motor vehicles, bodies and trailers, and parts manufacturing in the 50 states in 2013  (see the link below for data for previous years), it is already safe to say, based on 2012 data and ongoing trends, that last year more than 70% of the total U.S. production (in dollar terms) in this sector occurred in one of the 24 Right to Work states.

As recently as 2002, just 21% of the total U.S. output in automotive manufacturing took place in Right to Work states (then 22 in number).

A large share of the Right to Work growth from 2002-2013 can be accounted for by the fact that Michigan and Indiana, respectively #1 and #2 in automotive manufacturing output, both passed laws prohibiting compulsory unionism in 2012.  But this is far from the whole story.

Excluding Indiana and Michigan from the U.S. total, and considering just the 22 states that had Right to Work laws from 2002 to 2012, the Right to Work share of nationwide automotive manufacturing output grew from 36% to 52% over the decade.  Real manufacturing GDP in these 22 Right to Work states grew by 87% from 2002 to 2012, but fell by 2% in forced-unionism states (again excluding Indiana and Michigan).

The overwhelming advantage Right to Work states have enjoyed over forced-unionism states in attracting automotive manufacturing investment ought to put the burden of proof on Big Labor legislators in forced-unionism states like Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio who claim it makes no difference to companies considering new plant construction or expansions whether unionism is voluntary or not.  If that’s the case, how do they explain why automotive manufacturing output is soaring in Right to Work states as a group, but stagnant in forced-unionism states as a group?

Excluding Indiana and Michigan, the two most recent states to prohibit compulsory unionism, the share of all automotive and automotive parts production occurring in Right to Work states rose from 36% in 2002 to 52% in 2012. Image: businessclimate.com

Real GDP