Friday, November 13, 2009

Changing Demographics of the Labor Movement

HandsThe Center for Economic and Policy Research has issued a new report entitled, The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2009, documenting the demographic changes in the labor movement in the last 25 years, which mirror the demographic changes in the economy more generally. From the press release,

  • Women now make up over 45 percent of unionized workers, up from just 35 percent in 1983. By 2020, women will be the majority of union workers.
  • Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the labor movement. In 2008, they represented 12.2 percent of the union workforce, up from 5.8 percent in 1983.
  • Asians have seen considerable gains and made up 4.6 percent of the union workforce in 2008, an increase from 2.5 percent in 1989.
  • Black workers were about 13 percent of the total unionized workforce, a share that has held fairly steady since 1983, despite a large decline in the representation of whites over the same period.
  • Over one-third of union workers had a four-year college degree or more, up from only one-in-five in 1983. Almost half of union women had at least a four-year college degree.
  • Only about one-in-ten unionized workers was in manufacturing, down from almost 30 percent in 1983.
  • Just under half (48.9 percent) of unionized workers were in the public sector, up from just over one-third (34.4 percent) in 1983. About 61 percent of unionized women are in the public sector.
  • The typical union worker was 45 years old, or about 7 years older than in 1983. (The typical employee, regardless of union status, was 41 years old, also about 7 years older than in 1983.)
  • More educated workers were more likely to be unionized than less educated workers, a reversal from 25 years ago.
  • Immigrants made up 12.6 percent of union workers in 2008, up from 8.4 percent in 1994.
  • In rough terms, five-in-ten union workers were in the public sector; one of every ten was in manufacturing; and the remaining four of ten were in the private sector outside of manufacturing.

It's interesting data to go with Jeff's earlier post about public v. private sector unionization.


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