Commentary: Big Labor State Politicians’ ‘Wall of Denial’ Is Starting to Crumble

California Illinois
by Stan Greer


For decades, cold, hard data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have shown that states like New Jersey, Illinois and California are paying a high price for allowing dues-hungry union bosses to continue getting workers fired for refusal to bankroll their organizations.

Year after year, far more taxpayers have been leaving forced-unionism states than moving into them.  And the average tax filer moving out of a forced-unionism state has reported having an adjusted gross income (AGI) on his or her IRS form that is substantially higher than the average for a tax filer moving into a forced-unionism state.

All the while, union-label state politicians in New Jersey, Illinois, California and other Big Labor-dominated states have denied the existence of any fiscal or other problems related to taxpayer outmigration.

Back in September 2008, for example, then-Garden State Gov. Jon Corzine (D) issued a press release touting an academic study that conveniently overlooked the IRS’s taxpayer migration data while falsely claiming that New Jersey’s out-migration was “driven by low-income” individuals.  New Jersey’s large net out-migration, insisted the governor, was really a “byproduct of prosperity.”

Actual IRS data that were already publicly available at the time showed Corzine was wrong as well as callous.  In 2009 dollars, the average AGI for taxpayers who moved into New Jersey from another state from 2000 to 2008 was $1,800 lower than the average for those moving out.

Nearly 14 years later, in May 2022, union-label Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) outdid Corzine when he publicly cited 2010 and 2020 U.S. Census calculations of the Prairie State’s population using radically different methodologies to make the claim that Illinois’s population had grown by 250,000 during the second decade of the 21st Century.  Apples-to-apples Census data show Pritzker was and is dead wrong.  Illinois’ population actually fell by roughly 60,000 from 2010 to 2020, and fell by an additional 264,000 between April 1, 2020 and July 1, 2023.

Big Labor California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is arguably the king of denial.  When asked about the massive outmigration of Californians to overwhelmingly Right to Work “red states” during his nationally broadcast debate last November 30 with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), Newsom baldly claimed “more Floridians” had moved to California from 2020 to 2022 than Californians had moved to Florida.

Census data actually showed a net out-migration of 35,000 Californians to Florida over those two years, but Newsom apologists claim he’s still “right” when California’s larger population is factored in.  However, as think tank leader and former U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics Director Jeffrey Anderson has pointed out, in analyses of interstate migration per-capita adjustment is “misleading”: You’re measuring “which way the water is flowing between two bodies of water, not how big the respective bodies are.”

As creative as Pritzker and Newsom are in their use of statistical legerdemain to conceal the damage being done to their states by monopolistic unionism, the cat seems to have gotten their tongues since updated Census data incorporating figures for the period between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023 were published in December.

Some observers expected the populations of large forced-unionism states like Illinois, California, and New York to rebound over this period thanks to their belated lifting of COVID-19-related restrictions on commerce, travel and gatherings.  But in reality the populations of Illinois, California, and New York all continued to decline over the past year.

And a new projection of how the U.S. Electoral College map will shift after the 2030 Census, incorporating all the population data for the three years and three months following April 1, 2020, indicates that the clout forced-unionism states wield in federal politics will experience an extraordinarily large decline in 2032.

If this projection, calculated by the Brennan Center for Justice, turns out to be correct, Illinois, California and New York combined will control nine fewer electoral votes in 2032 than in 2024.  The congressional delegations of forced-unionism Illinois and New York, along with that of forced-unionism Pennsylvania, will be just half the size they were in 1940.  Meanwhile, Texas, Florida and six other Right to Work states will gain a total of 13 electoral votes.

The latest Census data are so devastating for Pritzker, Newsom, and other Big Labor state politicians that they may finally have to concede publicly that their states have a big problem in attracting and retaining employees and businesses.  Then the question will be, what are they prepared to do about it?

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Stan Greer, Senior Research Associate, National Institute for Labor Relations Research.
Photo “Gavin Newsom” by California Governor.






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