Minnesota Right-to-Work: How the Freedom of Workers in the Workplace Enhances Prosperity

Executive Summary

Unlike most southern and western states, Minnesota has no right-to-work law, a law which guarantees workers the freedom to join, or not to join, a labor union as the individual worker may choose. A wealth of research suggests that right-to-work laws are a significant factor in explaining state variations in industry location, human migration, and economic growth.

The evidence presented here for Minnesota suggests that the state’s economic growth would have been greater if a right-to-work law had been adopted several decades ago. Specifically, we estimate that personal income per capita, on average, would have been $2,360 to $3,072 higher annually in 2008 if Minnesota had adopted a right-to-work law in 1977. On a per household basis, personal income would have been somewhere between $5,960 to $7,740 higher if such a law had been in place. Instead of being 14th in the nation in per capita income in 2008, the state would almost certainly have been in the top 10. Excepting the low-tax and resource rich Dakotas, Minnesota probably would have led the Midwest in economic growth.

The passage of a right-to-work law would end monopolistic practices in labor markets that have been an important factor in keeping the state from being nearer the top with respect to the standard of living of its citizenry. Moreover, the cost to the state government of doing so would be trivial as enacting a right-to-work law would require no expenditure of taxpayer dollars.