Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
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NWI: Indiana Has Lower Unemployment Than Many Right-to-Work States

An article appearing on shows that while Indiana Republicans argue that passing a Right-to-Work law (also known as Right-to-Work-at-McDonald’s) will help unemployed Indianans, the state actually has a lower unemployment rate than many of the states who currently have such laws in effect.

A review of state unemployment data finds nearly half of right-to-work states have a higher unemployment rate than Indiana, and the most recent state to adopt right-to-work — Oklahoma in 2001 — since has lost many of its manufacturing jobs to Mexico and China.

Mitch Roob, head of the State’s Commerce Department, has been telling anyone who will listen that businesses are unwilling to come to Indiana because they do not want to deal with Union procedures. However, the kind of companies that are looking to avoid unionized workers might not be the kind of employers that unemployed Hoosiers want to be hired by.

“Right or wrong, many companies perceive non-right-to-work states as hostile to business,” Roob said.

Wrong, Roob. Dead wrong. The impact of RTW is not on business, but on workers.

The right-to-work state of Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.4 percent. Indiana’s unemployment rate is 8.3 percent.

Among right-to-work states with an unemployment rate less than Indiana, many have natural resources that ensure jobs even when the overall economy slumps, such as North Dakota (3.2 percent), South Dakota (4.8), Oklahoma (5.3), Wyoming (5.9) and Texas (8.2).

Roob’s insistence on pushing RTW, even when faced with facts that discredit its positive effects on business, further proves he is acting on behalf of the interests of those who want to see the end of Unions.

Let Oklahoma be the warning shot to states looking to enforce RTW: it will hurt more than it will help.

In 2001, Oklahoma legislators promised a new “golden age” for their state if right-to-work became law, arguing manufacturers from across the country would rush to relocate.

But after seeing its manufacturing employment grow to nearly 177,000 jobs in 2000 from 155,000 in 1990, Oklahoma lost 50,000 manufacturing jobs in the decade since enacting right-to-work in 2001. The only real effect of right-to-work in Oklahoma has been lower overall wages, with both union and nonunion workers taking home about $1,500 less a year.


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