Right to Work Enters Rust Belt

A few days before the "Big Game" the state of Indiana is poised to become the first rust belt state to enact a Right to Work law. Both houses of the state legislature have passed the bill and it now goes to the Governor for his action. Indiana would be the 23rd state in the union to be a Right to Work state.

It has been over a decade since the last state to join the ranks of the Right to Work fraternity, Oklahoma, did so. The New Hampshire legislature passed a Right to work bill in 2011 but it was vetoed by the Governor

As we pointed out last summer, private sector union membership in PA fell from 15% to 9% yet the issue of Right to Work cannot make it to the floor of the General Assembly. And the ever-present listings of "best places to do business" like Forbes shows that Right to Work states are consistently better performing than their non Right to Work counterparts. But will the change in Indiana put pressure on Pennsylvania to act?

Population Change: How Does Pittsburgh Stack Up?

In anticipation of the formal count of population under the decennial Census comes the 2009 estimate of "incorporated places and minor civil divisions". Looking at the list of the 276 places that fit the criteria of being over 100k people-all the way from New York City at close to 8.4 million to Boulder, CO at a scant 160 people over 100k-shows a population count of 311,647 for Pittsburgh, ranking it 61st. Year over year decline has slowed since the earlier part of the decade, and overall Pittsburgh has lost 6.6% of its 2000 estimated population of 333k (the official Census count was 334.5k).

How does Pittsburgh’s estimated change over the decade stack up? Revisiting our research back to 2004 when we started looking at cities in a comparative perspective provides an idea.

Our peer group report looked at ten other cities of similar population size (we used a range of 305k-380k from 2000 estimates). All of the cities increased in population-from a 0.6% bump in Cincinnati to 39% in Raleigh. That latter city, along with Colorado Springs and Minneapolis, no longer fit the population range we defined six years ago having reached more than 380k in 2009.

We then looked at Rust Belt cities-here Pittsburgh finds more company with Detroit (-3.7%), Buffalo (-7.5%) and Cleveland (-9.5%) posting decreases. Philly (2%) and Milwaukee (1.2%) netted positive numbers.

Lastly, our Benchmark City-a concept much broader and one we have revisited twice-shows all four regional hub cities growing over the decade. Salt Lake City is up 1.1%, Columbus 4.9%, Omaha 8.1%, and Charlotte is up 21%.