Friday, January 27, 2012

[IWS] BLS: UNION MEMBERS -- 2011 [27 January 2012]

IWS Documented News Service


Institute for Workplace Studies----------------- Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor---------------------- Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau



UNION MEMBERS -- 2011 [27 January 2012]


[full-text, 12 pages]


In 2011, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who

were members of a union--was 11.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 11.9

percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number

of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million, also showed

little movement over the year. 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), 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. For more information, see the

Technical Note.


Highlights from the 2011 data:


   --Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more

     than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9

     percent). (See table 3.)


   --Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the

     highest unionization rate, at 36.8 percent, while the lowest rate

     occurred in sales and related occupations (3.0 percent). (See

     table 3.)


   --Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white,

     Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)


   --Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership

     rate (24.1 percent) and North Carolina again had the lowest rate

     (2.9 percent). (See table 5.)


Industry and Occupation of Union Members


In 2011, 7.6 million employees in the public sector belonged to a

union, compared with 7.2 million union workers in the private sector.

The union membership rate for public-sector workers (37.0 percent) was

substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.9

percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the

highest union membership rate, 43.2 percent. This group includes

workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police

officers, and firefighters. Private-sector industries with high

unionization rates included transportation and utilities (21.1

percent) and construction (14.0 percent), while low unionization rates

occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.4 percent) and in

financial activities (1.6 percent). (See table 3.)


Among occupational groups, education, training, and library

occupations (36.8 percent) and protective service occupations (34.5

percent) had the highest unionization rates in 2011. Sales and related

occupations (3.0 percent) and farming, fishing, and forestry

occupations (3.4 percent) had the lowest unionization rates. (See

table 3.)


Selected Characteristics of Union Members


The union membership rate was higher for men (12.4 percent) than for

women (11.2 percent) in 2011. (See table 1.) The gap between their

rates has narrowed considerably since 1983, when the rate for men was

about 10 percentage points higher than the rate for women. Between

1983 and 2011, the union membership rate for men declined by almost

half (12.3 percentage points), while the rate for women declined by

3.4 percentage points.


In 2011, among major race and ethnicity groups, black workers were

more likely to be union members (13.5 percent) than workers who were

white (11.6 percent), Asian (10.1 percent), or Hispanic (9.7 percent).

Black men had the highest union membership rate (14.6 percent), while

Asian men had the lowest rate (9.1 percent).


By age, the union membership rate was highest among workers 55 to 64

years old (15.7 percent). The lowest union membership rate occurred

among those ages 16 to 24 (4.4 percent).


Full-time workers were about twice as likely as part-time workers to

be union members, 13.1 percent compared with 6.4 percent.


Union Representation


In 2011, 16.3 million wage and salary workers were represented by a

union. This group includes both union members (14.8 million) and

workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by

a union contract (1.5 million). (See table 1.) Government employees

comprised about half of the 1.5 million workers who were covered by a

union contract but were not members of a union. (See table 3.)




In 2011, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had

median usual weekly earnings of $938, while those who were not union

members had median weekly earnings of $729. In addition to coverage by

a collective bargaining agreement, earnings differences reflect a

variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of

union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, firm

size, or geographic region. (See table 2.)


Union Membership by State


In 2011, 29 states and the District of Columbia had union membership

rates below that of the U.S. average, 11.8 percent, while 21 states

had higher rates. All states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific

divisions reported union membership rates above the national average,

while all states in the East South Central and West South Central

divisions had rates below it. Union membership rates declined over the

year in 29 states and the District of Columbia, rose in 19 states, and

were unchanged in 2 states. (See table 5.)


Seven states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2011,

with North Carolina having the lowest rate (2.9 percent). The next

lowest rates were recorded in South Carolina (3.4 percent), Georgia

(3.9 percent), Arkansas (4.2 percent), Louisiana (4.5 percent), and

Tennessee and Virginia (4.6 percent each). Three states had union

membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2011: New York (24.1 percent),

Alaska (22.1 percent), and Hawaii (21.5 percent).


State union membership levels depend on both the overall employment

levels and union membership rates. The largest numbers of union

members lived in California (2.4 million) and New York (1.9 million).

Over half of the 14.8 million union members in the U.S. lived in just

seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 1.9 million; Illinois,

0.9 million; Pennsylvania, 0.8 million; Michigan 0.7 million; and New

Jersey and Ohio, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for

only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.


Texas had about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite

having 2.3 million more wage and salary employees. North Carolina and

Hawaii had comparable numbers of union members (105,000 and 113,000,

respectively), though North Carolina's wage and salary employment

level (3.6 million) was nearly seven times that of Hawaii (525,000).




·         Union Members Technical Note

·         Table 1. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by selected characteristics

·         Table 2. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation and selected characteristics

·         Table 3. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry

·         Table 4. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation, occupation, and industry

·         Table 5. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state


·         Access to historical data for the tables of the Union Membership News Release

·         HTML version of the entire news release





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