Union Membership on the Decline

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of Americans who were members of a labor union declined by roughly 0.5% between 2011 and 2012. This appears to be part of a larger trend. In 1983, it was estimated by the bureau that 20.1% of Americans belonged to a union. This report also shows a substantial gap between the percentage of private sector workers who belong to a union and the number of public sector workers. More than a third of public sector workers belong to a union but only 6.6% of private sector workers are unionized.

There are also large differences in union membership between states and regions. As evident by the figure, union membership in quite low in many areas of the South but significantly higher in the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast. It also appears that certain people are more likely to be members of unions than others. For instance, union membership stands at 14.9% among those ages 55 to 64 but only at 4.2% among those between the ages of 16 and 24. More men than women are members of union. Union membership also varied by race, with African Americans boasting the highest union membership rate, followed by whites, Asians, and Hispanics.

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