Michigan Incomes Up Strong After 4 Years of ‘Right-to-Work-for-Less’

Law says employers can't make paying the union a condition of employment

Michigan’s per capita personal income grew faster than that of 40 other states in 2016. Regionally, only Indiana saw incomes rise faster. (Indiana adopted right-to-work a year before Michigan.)

In 2009, at the low point of the Great Recession and Michigan’s “lost decade,” residents of 39 other states had a higher income than people in Michigan did. By last year, we had risen to No. 31 on this critical measure of economic well-being for families and small businesses.

Last week marked the fourth anniversary of when Michigan’s right-to-work law went into effect. The law prohibits employers from making an employee financially support a union as a condition of employment. One slogan repeated by union advocates then was that the new law was “right-to-work-for-less.”

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As part of our efforts on government transparency, we obtained data on the compensation of most public employees in the state. This information has been used to fact check claims about salaries, verify data from other open records requests, and hold government spending accountable.

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