None of the 14 States With Greatest Youth Population Declines Over the Past Decade Had a Right to Work Law Prior to 2013


By setting age-segregated U.S. Census Bureau population data released on December 22 (see the first link below) side by side with data found in Table 21 of the 2007 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States (see the second link below), one can quickly see that, even as the total population of the U.S. grew by 8.4% over the past decade, America’s population aged 17 and under grew by just 0.2%.

While the total youth (under 18) population of the U.S. as of July 1, 2015 was practically the same as it had been as of July 1, 2005, the distribution among the 50 states has changed substantially.  In fact, 14 states experienced youth population declines of greater than 3.0% over the past decade.

These 14 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) are geographically, ethnically and culturally diverse.  But until two years ago, when Michigan became the 24th Right to Work state, they all lacked Right to Work protections barring the termination of employees for refusal to join or bankroll a union.  And today 13 of the 14 states with the greatest youth-population declines still lack Right to Work protections.

On the other hand, 13 of the 14 states with the greatest percentage gains of 17-and-under population since 2005 (Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming). The sole forced-unionism state in the top 14 is Montana.

Overall, in the 25 states where forced union dues are still legally authorized today, the aggregate population aged 17 and under fell from 38.74 million in 2005 to 37.19 million in 2015.  That represents a 4.0% decline, or 1.55 million in absolute terms.

Meanwhile, the combined youth population of the 22 states that have had Right to Work laws since 2005 increased from 29.19 million to 31.26 million, or 7.1%. (Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, whose Right to Work laws respectively took effect in 2012, 2013 and 2015, are excluded from this analysis.)

The only plausible explanation for these data is that young adults with children, as well as those who expect to have children soon, are much more apt to move into Right to Work states and out of forced-unionism states than vice versa. Unfortunately, demographers have up to now devoted very little effort to ascertaining why this is so.

But it is reasonable to guess the most important factor is that Right to Work states offer employees of all educational backgrounds jobs that enable them to provide better living standards for their families, when regional differences in cost of living are taken into consideration.

While Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, or educational attainment, are far more apt to move into Right to Work states than out of them, a disproportionately large share of net out-migrants from forced-unionism states are parents and their minor children. Image:

2015 National, State, and Puerto Rico Commonwealth Population Estimates by Age (18+)

Statistical Abstract of the United States 2007 (Paper Edition)