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Shocker! Life Is Worse in 'Right to Work' for Less States

If you listen to extremist conservatives, they'll tell you, almost without exception, that "right to work" for less laws are an essential tool for making the lives of working people better. If you are more interested in actual facts, you'll find that statement to be untrue. Politico took a look at 14 measures of quality of life and combined them into a ranking of the best and worst states to live in. As we were bound to learn, Economic Policy Institute's (EPI's) Ross Eisenbrey points out "right to work" states fared much worse than states where the rights of working families are actually protected.

Among the 14 factors Politico included were high school graduation rates, income (on a per capita basis), life expectancy and crime rate. Of the top five states, only one was "right to work," with New Hampshire taking the top spot. Of the 10 worst states, eight were "right to work," with Mississippi coming in last. More than half of all "right to work" states landed in the 20 worst states to live in.

Learn more about so-called "right to work" laws.

University of Oregon labor scholar and EPI research associate Gordon Lafer often points out how relatively poor the quality of life is in "right to work" states, on average, compared to states that don’t restrict union contract rights.

The outcome of Politico's rankings suggests the opposite of corporate assertions that “right to work” states are doing better than others. According to Politico, four of the five best states to live in do not have "right to work" laws. In order, these states are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Vermont, Utah and Massachusetts.

"Right to work" states account for eight of the 10 worst states, and all five of the five worst states (in order, from 46th–50th: Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi). The majority of "right to work" states are not only in the bottom half of the country, but in the bottom 20 of the 50 states.

Lafer’s home state, Oregon, where corporate backers are trying to pass a public sector "right to work" law, is ranked 23rd, outperforming nearly two-thirds of the states that currently have "right to work" laws.

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