Right to Work and Economy
Mon December 10, 2012
Upjohn Institute economist on right to work laws
So-called “right to work” legislation is now on the fast track in the Michigan legislature. Governor Snyder says the state needs what is being called the “Workplace Fairness and Equality Act” to boost Michigan’s economic recovery. But Upjohn Employment Institute Senior Economist Tim Bartik says the research on “right to work” laws is inconclusive. He recently spoke with WMUK’s Gordon Evans.
“If you have a particular political opinion, you want to cherry pick studies to support it, you can find the right studies in the area of right to work laws.”
BalanceThe number of jobs shouldn’t be the only factor in creating policy, according to Bartik. He says wages and the mix of jobs are also important. Bartik says the goal of economic development should be to raise the standard of living of a broad group of people in the state. He says part of that is increasing the number of jobs. But Bartik says having a job that pays little is better than having no job, but not as good as a high-paying job. Bartik says there is a trade-off in attracting low-wage employers. He says available land and labor are resources that the state has to offer. Bartik says attracting too many low-wage jobs can use up the best land and take workers off the market, and discourage companies that offer better-paying jobs. Bartik says one factor that should be considered is whether companies pay good wages relative to the skills that they require.