A new analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute finds that economies are stronger and incomes are higher in states with right to work (RTW) laws, which prohibit compelled union membership as a condition of employment. According to the analysis:

Incomes rise following the passage of RTW laws, even after adjusting for the substantial population growth that those laws also induce. RTW states tend to be vibrant and growing; non-RTW states tend to be stagnant and aging.

To be sure, there are exceptions to every rule, and many other factors affect economic growth. Thus, much of New England is relatively prosperous despite the absence of RTW laws— though much of that growth is in industries where unions never gained a foothold, such as high technology.  Nonetheless, even those areas likely would have benefited from RTW legislation. The evidence suggests that if non-RTW states had adopted RTW laws 35 years ago or so, income levels would be on the order of $3,000 per person higher today. …

The total estimated income loss in 2012 from the lack of RTW laws in a majority of U.S. states was an extraordinary $647.8 billion—more than $2,000 for every American, including those in RTW states.

In a free society, all people should have the right to choose with whom they associate, and the choice to join or not join a labor union should be left to individuals.