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In 2019, the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a labor union–the union membership rate–was 10.3 percent, down by 0.2 percentage point from 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Highlights from the 2019 data:
–The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.6 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.2 percent).
–Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.8 percent) than women (9.7 percent).
–Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
–Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 81 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($892 versus $1,095).
–Among states, Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates (23.5 percent and 21.0 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest (2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively).
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2019, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.5 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate declined over the year in the
private sector by 0.2 percentage point to 6.2 percent. The unionization rate for public-sector workers was little changed over the year at 33.6 percent, and remained substantially above that of the private sector. Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest in local government (39.4 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers. Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included utilities (23.4 percent), transportation and warehousing (16.1 percent), and telecommunications (14.1 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.1 percent),
insurance (1.4 percent), professional and technical services (1.4 percent), and food services and drinking places (1.4 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2019 were in protective service occupations (33.8 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (33.1 percent).
Unionization rates were lowest in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (2.1 percent); sales and related occupations (2.8 percent); and food preparation and serving related occupations (3.5 percent).
Union Membership by State
In 2019, 28 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 21 states had rates above it and 1 state had the same rate. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it.
Eight states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2019. South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest rates (2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively). The next lowest rates were in Texas and Virginia (4.0 percent each). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2019: Hawaii (23.5 percent) and New York (21.0 percent).
Over half of the 14.6 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 1.7 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.
While numbers reflect a decrease in membership, keep in mind the Janus decision has given public sector employees an opportunity not to pay dues and the increase in jobs created monthly is tremendous in todays economy. It is important to understand that an investment into your employees and business now can prevent this problem from happening and save lot of money and stress and division in the long run.