“Unions may protect wages, but they also slow job growth.”
So says Shikha Dalmia:
Grand Valley State University economist Hari Singh found that if Michigan had been a right-to-work state, the auto industry would have seen a 25 percent gain in jobs since 1965. Instead, it lost 56.6 percent just between 2002 and 2009, shrinking its work force by 165,777. In a functioning market, high unemployment would lead to lower wages. But in Michigan’s auto industry, Singh found, wages actually rose 18.1 percent during that time.
Unions congratulate themselves for protecting workers’ wages, but they have imposed a heavy price on everyone else. Not a single foreign automaker has ever taken advantage of Michigan’s legions of out-of-work but highly trained employees, preferring to train novices in right-to-work states.
Since jobs can’t come to Michigan, Michigan residents followed the jobs. Michigan lost 11.7 percent of its 25-34 age group between 1993 and 2003 — while right-to-work states gained 3.8 percent. Indeed, the 2009 Census revealed that Michigan had experienced the third-highest emigration in the country. Otherwise, Michigan’s unemployment situation would be even grimmer.
But the hidden costs of labor unions have become impossible to ignore, partly because Michigan’s collapsing real estate market has made it hard for homeowners to sell and relocate. There is a new desperation to do something to jumpstart job growth, which is why unions are in the cross hairs.