A new paper by Economic Policy Institute senior economist Elise Gould and research assistant Will Kimball titled, “Right-to-Work” States Still Have Lower Wages, reports that wages are 3.1 percent lower in “right to work” states, for union and nonunion workers alike—after correctly accounting for differences in cost of living, demographics, and labor market characteristics. The negative impact of “right to work” laws translates to $1558 less a year in earnings for a typical full-time worker.
“It’s abundantly clear that right to work laws are negatively correlated with workers’ wages,” said Gould.
In addition to the effect on wages, workers in non-“right to work” states are 2.4 times as likely to be in a union or be protected by a union contract than in “right to work” states. Meanwhile, workers in “right to work” states are less likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance or pension coverage.
“Policymakers who are concerned by the three-and-a-half decades of wage stagnation that have plagued American workers should be trying to strengthen unions,” said Kimball. “Collective bargaining is a clear way to raise wages, and “right to work” laws undercut it.”
This paper is part of EPI’s Raising America’s Pay project, a multiyear research and public education initiative to make wage growth an urgent national policy priority.