Michigan lost $2.5 billion in income from 2007 to 2008 as people migrated out of the state, trailing only California ($4 billion) and New York ($2.52 billion) in lost income, according to a calculation by The Tax Foundation.
The Tax Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization in Washington D.C., provides a "migration calculator" that can track where people are moving and taking their paychecks with them.
The data comes from the IRS and its Statistics of Income division, according to The Tax Foundation. The migration data uses IRS tax returns from each year and includes social security numbers. That allows the IRS to track movement of taxpayers as well as income.
The calculation also shows that the top ten states hit the hardest in terms of gross lost income were all forced-unionization states. Yet, nine of the 12 states that showed the largest growth in income were right-to-work states. The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation defines states as right-to-work if the law guarantees that no person can be forced, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.
"This just says workers and all Americans are voting with their feet for states that respect the worker's freedom not to join and pay dues to union officials just to keep their jobs," said Patrick Semmens, the director of legal information at the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation. "Americans want to work to get paid not to pay union bosses to get work."
Southern states were the biggest winners in attracting income. Florida had the biggest increase with $4.5 billion in added income and Texas was second at $2.8 billion.
"These results show that right-to-work is a great attraction to employers, and with that, good paying jobs," wrote Paul Kersey, director of the labor policy at the Mackinac Center For Public Policy, in an e-mail. "It's time we faced up to the fact that the union movement in Michigan has become a destructive force badly in need of accountability and discipline. Right-to-work is the best way to make unions accountable to the workers they exist to represent."