Michael Lucci Feb. 20, 2015, 10:07am

Right-to-Work states are doing a better job of providing opportunity for minorities seeking work, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. The comparison between Right-to-Work states and forced-union states, such as Illinois, shows that black unemployment in Right-to-Work states is a full percentage point below forced-union states. Latino unemployment in Right-to-Work states is two percentage points below forced-union states.


The BLS data include the average unemployment rates for all of 2014 across the 50 states, showing an outsized negative effect on minority workers in forced-union states. White unemployment rates between Right-to-Work and forced-union states are much closer, with only a 0.6 percentage point difference.

For minority men, the difference is more severe. The unemployment rate for black men is 1.3 percentage points lower in Right-to-Work states. For Latino men, the unemployment rate is 2.3 percentage points lower in Right-to-Work states.


Illinois is home to a number of policies that reduce the opportunities of minorities, especially men. Forced unionism is one of them, as it places a barrier between a worker and the job he or she wants.

Local Right-to-Work initiatives can address the problem of minority unemployment in some of Illinois’ municipalities and local areas that are hurting worst. While minorities, especially men, might be the groups helped most by Right to Work, embracing worker freedom and ending forced unionism will bring benefits to the entire state.

Aside from Right to Work, Illinois should also create easier and cheaper alternatives to the state’soccupational-licensing overkill for low-income occupations. Overly licensed occupations create another barrier to entry for low-income workers and entrepreneurs, who are often minorities.

Finally, Illinois should make it cheaper and easier for low-income entrepreneurs to start up their own businesses. The highest startup fees in the U.S. for basic paperwork along with the nation’s longest wait times for a basic business license can block low-income entrepreneurs and minorities from pursuing the American dream of starting and growing a small business.

Michael Lucci is Director of Jobs and Growth for the Illinois Policy Institute.

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