Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Union Membership Continues To Decline

On Jan. 22, 2010, the BLS issued its annual report on union membership. Union membership has continued to decline. As the report states:

In 2009, the union membership rate—the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union—was 12.3 percent, essentially unchanged from 12.4 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions declined by 771,000 to 15.3 million, largely reflecting the overall drop in employment due to the recession. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over.
Some highlights from the 2009 data are:
 More public sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private sector
employees (7.4 million), despite there being 5 times more wage and salary workers in the
private sector.
Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at
38.1 percent.

Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic
Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (25.2 percent) and North
Carolina had the lowest rate (3.1 percent).
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2009, 7.9 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.4 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public sector workers (37.4 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private industry workers (7.2 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 43.3 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Private sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (22.2 percent), telecommunications (16.0 percent), and construction (14.5 percent).

Hat Tip:
Workplace Prof Blog

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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