Do you know why Nevada’s trade unions are powerful? See The Economist this week for a short analysis of an interesting case. Trade unions’ role and importance have diminished in the last 30 years pretty much everywhere in the Western world. However, Nevada, of all places, has experienced an upsurge. This is somewhat paradoxical. Nevada has no particularly union-friendly labor regulations, its population is young, and the rate of foreign-born migrants is on the increase. Also, most of its economy is in services.
The Economist explains that some union-related industries (carpentry, cooking, etc) have grown a lot and so did union membership. Still, in the absence of labor regulation supporting collective bargaining and in the context of a reasonably fluid labor market, it’s hard to understand why trade unions would see their membership increase. The promise of easy money perhaps drives this surge, as employees want to make sure that the profits are “fairly distributed.” But in America, this generally fosters the entrepreneurial spirit rather than union-membership.