The Jobs Question
The Jobs Question
There has been much talk about jobs and employment in the Free State Project Forum. Members and potential members have concerns about their futures. They want to know if the candidate states have jobs, will they be able to feed their families, can they retire in comfort and other questions. These are valid concerns. We all want to be able to find a job, support our family, and give to our favorite charities. We are all in the same boat. There has been much discourse on this issue but some of the fundamental parts of the equation are being left out. In the report, I hope to discuss the issues and take a closer look at each individual state for future possibilities.
The first part of this report deals with the jobs question as a whole, and the second part looks at the individual candidate states.
Part 1 About Jobs
The goal of the Free State Project is to move 20,000 or so people to a low-populated state that leans libertarian and has inexpensive elections. Once the 20,000 or so people move to the selected state they will work to slowly reduce the size and scope of government by around 2/3. The first priority of the FSP membership should be to pick which state is easiest to turn into a Free State.
This is a noble goal and while the three factors that were mentioned in the first sentence of the previous paragraph might appear to be the most important factors, some people consider other factors to be very important. One factor that is often looked at and considered very important is the potential to find employment. This is an important concern but the employment factor needs to be broken down so that a greater understanding of it may be found.
Let us say that there will be 20,000 FSP members. (We do not know that there will be 20,000 there may be fewer, there may be more but this is the goal of the FSP). Roughly 20% of our membership is retired. Thus only about 16,000 members will need jobs (80% of 20,000). Some of our members are not yet retired but will be in less than ten years. Let us say that this group of members makes up roughly 5% of our total membership. That means another 1,000 members will not need to find employment in the selected state. Thus, 15,000 of our members will need to find jobs in the selected state.
Additionally, the FSP has many single members. Chances are high, that if these single members marry, they will marry other FSP members or citizens of the selected state. If the single members marry other FSP members, the only possible job-related side-effect is that some of these married couples will decide to become one-income families. This means that fewer jobs will be needed for the FSP, as a whole. If the single FSP members marry current citizens of the selected state, this can only help us, also. Either nothing will change or some of these newly married people will decide to become single-family households and this will again help the FSP out. To determine the exact numbers for these possibilities is very difficult so I will use a conservative estimate and say that this will reduce the amount of jobs needed for FSP members by 500 to 1,500. This means FSP members will only need around 14,000 jobs (15,000 1,000) in the selected state.
A large chunk of the FSP membership is married. The married members may be broken down into two groups. One group consists of married members where the spouses are also FSP members. The other group consists of married members where the spouses are not FSP members. The latter group may be broken down into double-income families and single-income families. Overall, the married members with FSP members as spouses and married members with single-income families should counteract the married members without FSP members as spouses and produce a wash, as far as extra needed jobs are concerned.
After spending several months on the FSP Forum and Yahoo state discussion groups, it has become apparent to me that a great deal of FSP members are self-employed. Another group of members work through the internet, as writers, through radio or the mail, for trucking companies, and other such ways so that they can live in any of the candidate states and keep their current job, or find one similar to it. Around 10% of the eventual 20,000 members fit into this group. That means a state will only need around 12,000 extra jobs (14,000 2,000) to accommodate every single FSP member.
There is another obvious factor that may easily be overlooked. Moving 20,000 people to a state will create many new jobs. New houses will need to be opened, new medical staff will be needed, new stores and restaurants will be needed, and more utility and transportation jobs will be needed. The levels of employment for just about every service industry will go up. By the time the move to the selected state is being completed, 1,000 to 3,000 jobs will have been created simply because of our moving to the selected state. Let us just say that we take half of these additional jobs. That means around 1,000 jobs will go to FSP members, and we will only need 11,000 total jobs (12,000 1,000).
Let us be honest though, and I am not trying to brag, but libertarians tend to be more highly educated and better motivated than the average America. Lots of the current American workforce do not put as much effort into their jobs as they could. We know this. Employees and employers also know this. Because unemployment rates are so low in much of the country and this problem is so widespread, most employers understand that some of their employees are not going to be motivated or hard working. This is the reality in America. Some employers have gotten very aggressive and started to seek out and recruit potential employees from Mexico and Latin American counties. I know this is happening all over my region of the county (the South), and I have heard reports of it happening in the Mountain-west, East coast, and all across the country. If our 11,000 members in need of jobs act and dress professional, work hard and honestly, and stay motivated, they will acquire jobs that are not even advertised. In other words, employers will seek to replace the parts of their workforce that are unproductive, with FSP members. In theory, we could move to a state with only a few thousand projected new jobs and find work. All we would need to do is replace some of the below-average workers with our, above-average workers. If this is the reality (and it is in any state I have ever visited), we should be able to find work in any of the states, regardless of the projected job growth.
In some states, like Delaware, Wyoming, and New Hampshire, there are well over 100,000 additional projected jobs within less than one hour of the state line. While the states around Delaware and New Hampshire have high income taxes, the states around Wyoming mostly do not. FSP members will not need to travel to neighboring states to find jobs, but it is nice to know that they are there, if people think making very high salaries is worth the extra drive. The cities nearby all three of these states offer lots of high tech jobs and jobs where telecommuting is possible. For example, someone could live in Wyoming but make $80,000 a year in Denver (or Salt Lake City) while only traveling to Denver (or Salt Lake City) three days a week. There are also progressive shifts and jobs where there is no work during the summer. A doctor can live in New Hampshire but drive to Massachusetts three times per week for 16-hour shifts. For three and a half months a year, a teacher that lives in Delaware but works in Pennsylvania would not need to go to work. Of course, even if a member decided to do this, it would only be for a few years. After a few years of reforming the laws and promoting a very strong business climate in the selected state, these same jobs will move to the selected state.
While most people that live in Mountain-western and Mid-western states prefer to drive very short distances to work, many of the people from the Northeast drive long distances everyday. For them, driving out-of-state for a very high paying job, compared to an average job just down the street, might be a good idea. For example, in South Dakota the average drive time, each way, is 16.6 minutes and it is 17.8 minutes in Wyoming. On the other hand, in Eastern states it is longer. Maine is 22.7 minutes, New Hampshire is 25.3 minutes, and Delaware is 24 minutes. These Eastern and California members are the ones that currently drive long distances to work. There is no reason to think that these members, if they want to make $80,000 per year, will not be willing to continue driving long distances to work. However, if they are OK with making only $35,000 or so, they will only have to drive around 16.6 minutes, each way, to work in a state like South Dakota.
There has even been some talk that more projected new jobs is not necessarily a good thing. We should at least consider this argument. We can make a list of advantages and disadvantages of a high-growth state and a low-growth state:
High job-growth state:
- More jobs might mean the choice in places to live would be wider, although
jobs do tend to be concentrated in larger cities.
- More jobs might mean easier access to occupations for FSP members who are
- More jobs might mean the state is probably already experiencing heavy
immigration, which may lead to hostility towards newcomers. Add to that a
political agenda, and we may have a difficult time in the area of acceptance.
- More jobs might mean the economy in the state is already healthy. This
means FSP influence will be harder to prove in "turning things around", thus
making the Free State model less attractive to other states. FSP may thus be a
- More jobs, above the needs of FSP and Friends-of-FSP, will draw economic
refugees from other states. These will dilute FSP efforts to free the states,
particularly if the refugees are from nearby statist states that are exporting
jobs due to poor economic policies.
- More jobs means a fast-increasing population, so FSP may have difficulty staying on top of things, and may find itself more in a defensive role, rather than making progress in increasing freedom.
Low job-growth state:
- Fewer jobs, especially at the lowest levels, will slow down statist
immigration for the period that FSP members are immigrating to the state. This
will give us time to get up-to-speed politically, and start influencing things
particularly in the area of providing other disincentives for statists
to move to the state, which will be needed as FSP policies gradually improve
the economic picture.
- Fewer jobs might mean the economy is flat. Thus, we should be able to
subsequently make a convincing demonstration of the benefits of freedom to the
economy. This demonstration will help spread freedom to neighboring states,
particularly those that are languishing.
- Fewer jobs might mean more difficult access to occupations for FSP members
who are not retired. It will take more years for all our member-population to
move to the state.
- Fewer jobs might mean that more FSP members will have to go to tech or
vocation school to learn a new skill.
- Fewer jobs might mean that some FSP members might want to travel out of state to find the very high-paying jobs that big cities offer.
To conclude this section: Much of the worrying about job is unfounded and overblown. All of the candidate states have enough jobs for us if we are productive and proactive. Remember, all we need is around 11,000 new jobs. Given all of the above, even if we had 25,000 members, all of our members would still find jobs in any of the candidate states. We are libertarians, we are motivated (otherwise we would not be activists), and we are professional. We will have 7-8 years to find a job in the selected state. All of us will be able to find jobs in the selected state. We will find jobs, we will be activists, and the project will succeed. Remember, freedom creates jobs.
Part 2 Individual State Data
- The Current Job Health of the States
This factor looks at unemployment rates to compare the health of each state's current job climate. Remember that unemployment rates are subject to quick and radical change so this factor is of very limited importance. It is of importance only when the state has a long-term trend of having a high unemployment rate. In those cases, I make a special note. Anything under 4.5% is generally considered good. Percentages are current as of May 2003.
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 State SD ND DE NH WY VT MT ME ID AK Unemployment
3.2% 3.5% 3.7% 3.9% 4.0% 4.1% 4.2% 4.5% 5.2%1 7.3%2
1 Idaho has been 4.6% or higher since 1978 and above 5.1% for most of that time. However, considering that Idaho is near the Northwest, it is not doing too poorly. Historically (and currently), Washington and Oregon have had higher unemployment rates than Idaho.
2 Alaska has been 5.6% or higher since 1978 and above 8.0% for most of that time.
- Future Job Health Level of the States
This factor is somewhat important, but not written in stone. This number is figured by using two different government figured projections and is subject to change. It is figured by dividing the 2012 projected population by the number of new jobs expected in each state by 2010. The 2012 projected population numbers are figured by extrapolating the growth from 2000 to 2002 in each state. This factor tells how many people it will take in each state by 2012 to produce the need for one new job. The lower the number, the healthier a state's job levels are. In other words, the lower the number, the better.
If you were to compare the states by region, the Mountain-west is best, followed by a tie between the Mid-west and Alaska, and the Northeast is last. Interestingly enough, the best big state is Montana, the best mid-sized stated is South Dakota, and the best small state is Wyoming. Idaho also does really well. All four of these states border each other. If these government projections hold up, this north Mountain-west/western plains region has a very good future job health level. All four of these states seem to be on the same page. On the other hand, in the north Northeast, Vermont and Maine are on the same downward spiral, while New Hampshire is a bright spot. At least in this one category, the northern Northeast region is not one united region.
Future State Health Level
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 State MT ID SD NH WY DE AK ND VT ME 10.2 11.4 12.8 13.4 14.3 15.0 15.2 17.4 19.0 24.5
- Projected new jobs in the next ten years
This is the number of new jobs projected in each state over the next ten years by the government of each state. See the first part of this report for a long list of reasons why this factor is not very important. Additionally, the government data does not figure in the under the counter businesses. For example, many house cleaning, yard work, house repair, auto repair, farm/ranch hand, and sales jobs tend to be under the counter. So, for the states with under 700,000 people, another 5,000 new jobs can likely be added to their totals (and 10,000 new jobs for the states with over 1,200,000 people).
Generally, the way this number works is that the higher population states have more projected new jobs. So, if you want tons of projected new jobs (even though we do not need them) you are asking for a highly populated state. Instead, if you want the best chance for the success of the project (likely in the lowest population states), then not as many extra jobs will be available.
Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 State ID NH MT SD DE ME AK WY VT ND Projected
158,700 109,400 92,500 61,600 61,600 56,400 47,800 36,300 34,400 34,300
After you figure in projected new out-of-state jobs that are within an hour's drive the ranks change somewhat. The reason why the ranking changes so much is because some states like Delaware and Wyoming might have less than 100,000 projected new jobs but the areas within an hour's drive, have more than 100,000 projected new jobs. Here are some of the out-of-state cities:
DE Philadelphia, PA NH St. Johnsbury, VT Lowell, MA Lawrence, MA ID Spokane, WA WY Scottsbluff, NE Ft. Collins, CO Loveland, CO ME Lawrence, MA ND Moorhead, MN SD Sioux City, IA
- State median household income (scaled for cost of living)
Delaware and Wyoming are the highest. Delaware and New Hampshire have higher than average cost of livings and higher than average median household incomes. Wyoming has a lower than average household income and a lower than average cost of living. New Hampshire and South Dakota also do well. Maine, Idaho, and Montana score very low.
Rank 1 3 4 5 7 8 9 State DE WY NH SD AK ND VT ME ID MT Out of 10 10.0 9.4 5.6 5.0 3.9 0.6 0.0
- Number of Activists needed to reach the 1 to 62 ratio for a population
There is another interesting way to look at this equation. If we were to go by just activists per state resident, the numbers of activists we need per state are very different. The candidate states have been chosen based on one main factor, population. Lots of Jason's original research dealt with the Parti Quebecois of Quebec, Canada. Jason, the founder and President of the Free State Project, described how the PQ had 100,000 paying members in a Canadian province with around 6,200,000 residents when it gained a parliamentary majority in 1976. This makes one PQ activist for every 62 Quebec residents. The FSP would need 20,000 activists in a state with fewer than 1,200,000 residents to attempt to duplicate the PQ's success. If you never read Jason's article or want to read it again, you can find it here. We cannot go by the 1,200,000 population number because the FSP leaders decided to include states with up to 1,500,000 people.
This calculation is figured by dividing the 2001 Census Bureau populations by 20,000. Idaho is on pace to surpass the 1.5 million threshold by 2007. The current time frame set by the FSP is 2010.
This factor shows how many activists will be need, as a minimum, in each state to have a major impact on the electorate. If we only need 7,000 activists in Wyoming and only 8,000 activists in Vermont, there should be no job problem in those states. Remember, as demonstrated in the first half of this report, 20,000 activists only need 11,000 new jobs. If that is true, how many jobs would 8,000 Vermont activists need? 7,000? 6,000? Surely there are more than 6,000 new projected jobs in Vermont (34,000+ is the official estimate). If you notice, the more populated states require more activists and need more jobs. While the less populated states need less activists and provide less new jobs. However, the less populated states are able to handle all 20,000 activists. Based on these numbers alone, we would be about 200% as effective in Alaska when compared to Idaho. The same 200% is true for a Wyoming vs. New Hampshire or a Vermont vs. Maine comparison.
Rank 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 State WY VT ND AK SD DE MT NH ME ID Activists
6,952 8,174 8,459 10,088 10,615 12,059 16,789 17,155 17,613
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