By Donna King
Oxfam’s annual ranking of states with free-market policies is out, and once again its title is proving to be good clickbait for left-leaning policy groups and news media.
Oxfam is a 501C3 group that promotes liberal positions, including pro-union, pro-abortion, and government interventionist policies. The group says its work is geared toward lobbying for economic justice, gender equality, and climate action.
“Oxfam is a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice… Inequality is the most pressing issue of our time,” their site says.
Its annual index, called the Best and Worst States to Work in America 2022, ranks all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico based on its own public policy goals, which are to promote government intervention into private businesses. North Carolina ranks last, at 52, based on it’s high level of free-market-based policy.
The study does not examine wage growth, and does not survey worker satisfaction, cost of living, or the states’ population growth as workers move around the country.
The annual index ranks states based on three general areas; how high and how broadly applied the state’s minimum wage law is, whether states have pro-union policies, and whether the state government mandates worker benefits.
“This index is specifically just looking at state level policies for workers,” said Kaitlyn Henderson, Ph.D. and lead researcher for Oxfam, in an interview with Carolina Journal after the last survey in 2021. “We really wanted to celebrate those states that are seeking to support even the worker who earns the least amount of money.”
North Carolina ranks last at #52 in Oxfam’s list, the same as it did last year. N.C. is a right-to-work state and has been for 75 years. This means that there are not “closed shops.” Workers are not required to join a union to be employed here.
“Research continues to indicate that right-to-work states not only create more jobs than their counterparts, but workers in those states report higher life satisfaction,” said John Locke Foundation President Donald Bryson.
However, worker satisfaction is still not surveyed in the annual ranking. N.C. is among 28 states with right-to-work laws, making them a target for groups like Oxfam.
The other areas that Oxfam measures is whether states mandate that businesses provide a litany of benefits, including paid sick and family leave, regulations for flexible scheduling in shift workers, or requiring that companies disclose personnel salaries.
Because Oxfam researchers focus their index on aligning states to their public policies, some real life data isn’t factored in. North Carolina is the 14th fasted growing state in population, and only one of Oxfam’s top states are actually gaining population.
Oxfam ranked Oregon first in Oxfam’s their survey, followed by California, Washington, District of Columbia, and New York in the top five. The highest score category for these states on their survey is “Right to Organize.”
“Oregon is one of three states to pass new laws mandating heat protections for outdoor workers at a time when no federal protections exist,” their report reads. “It leads the US with policies aimed to improve conditions in the workplace and ensure the right to organize. It also offers strong unemployment benefits.”
Georgia and Mississippi, ranked 51 and 50, were criticized by the group not just for the policies it claims to measure.
“…both states move to severely restrict women’s access to abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, their labor policies cruelly make it harder for working women to provide for babies they are now forced to carry to term,” the Oxfam researchers wrote.
Four of the five states Oxfam listed as “Best for Workers” were also among the most expensive places to live, and three of the five have lost population in recent years.