At the request of the West Virginia Legislature, West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research studied the economic impact of right-to-work laws in other states.

Director John Deskins presented the results Sunday to the interim Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Some legislative leaders have said that during the next sessions, they will seek to enact right-to-work laws, which ban so-called “closed” or “agency” shops requiring employees either to join a union or pay union dues.

The BBER, which operates within the College of Business and Economics, was asked to conduct the study under an agreement with the Legislature.

“Research and service, along with teaching, are at the core of our land-grant mission, and we are pleased that legislators continue to seek our help in developing a greater understanding of the issues before them,” Deskins said.

Should West Virginia pass RTW legislation, it would become the 26th state to do so, adding to a recent upturn in right-to-work states.

WVU’s chief economist said that decades-old arguments for and against RTW warranted a more careful analysis.

“While the simple examination of economic outcomes across the two groups of states is important in allowing us to understand our data and in the process of hypothesis formation, this superficial examination does not imply that RTW policy has caused the observed differences in economic outcomes. Instead, RTW policy may be correlated with other factors that could also influence economic outcomes, including other economic policies or factors as simple as climate,” Deskins wrote in the study.

Some of the outcomes of the study include:

• Adoption of a RTW policy would cause an estimated decline in private sector union membership of around one-fifth;
RTW policy leads to rates of employment growth that are approximately 0.4 percentage points higher than in non-RTW states; and
RTW policy leads to rates of GDP growth that are approximately 0.5 percentage points higher than in non-RTW states.

For a free download of this study, go to For further information about the WVU College of Business and Economics, follow B&E on Twitter at @wvucobe or visit



CONTACT: John Deskins; WVU College of Business and Economics

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