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posted on 21 January 2018

Union Labor Force Level Unchanged In 2017

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

The union membership rate - the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions - was unchanged at 10.7 percent in 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2017, edged up by 262,000 from 2016. 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 are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over.

Highlights from the 2017 data:

  • The union membership rate of public-sector workers (34.4 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.5 percent). (See table 3.)
  • Workers in protective service occupations and in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rates (34.7 percent and 33.5 percent, respectively). (See table 3.)
  • Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.4 percent) than women (10.0 percent). (See table 1.)
  • Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
  • Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 80 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($829 versus $1,041). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
  • Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (23.8 percent), while South Carolina continued to have the lowest (2.6 percent). (See table 5.)

[click here to read the entire report]

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