The chart above is about the Buckeye State, a.k.a. "the Heart of It All," a.k.a. Ohio.
But the general trend lines reflect past, present, and future realities in many parts of the country beyond the old industrial Midwest. Even after the big boom of the '90s went bust, Ohio never climbed back upwards in terms of jobs. It's been a long, bad job market dating back to the early Aughts.
The group behind the chart, Opportunity Ohio (check out its Facebook page, where most of its action seems to reside), is headed up by Matt Mayer, a former muckety-muck at the Department of Homeland Security and head of Ohio's free-market Buckeye Institute.
Opportunity Ohio points out that
Right-to-work states dominate the economic recovery. Nine of the 12 top growth states protect workers' right to choose whether or not to join a union. Conversely, 11 out of the 12 worst growth states have forced unionization. The one exception is Michigan, which became a right-to-work state in 2012.
If recovery is partly (or largely) a function of responding to changed circumstances, the argument goes, jurisdictions with more labor-market flexibility are going to adapt more quickly. Millennials, who have higher than average unemployment and are staring down the barrel of a crap economy for years to come, should especially be interested in learning that lesson. In the name of fairness, compassaion, and all sorts of shiny, glittering abstractions, they are entering (or more precisely, not entering) a labor market that is increasingly constrained by all sorts of policies. That's not a recipe for economic growth and long-term income gains.
I highly recommend Mayer's 2012 book, Taxpayers Don't Stand a Chance, an excellent primer based on his experiences with local, state, and federal governments and the structural difficulties in actually constrating the size, scope, and spending of government. It makes for depressing reading, yes, but illuminates the dynamics at work and even suggests credible ways to limit government.
Back in 2011, Reason TV interviewed Mayer, who was unsparing in his criticism of Republican Gov. John Kasich's budget. Take a look: