- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just released its union membership report showing membership was at 14.6 million in 2016, a 240,000 decline from 2015. The report is based on the Current Population Survey, a monthly data collection of 60,000 households.
- Highlights from the report show that union members earn a median weekly wage of $1,008, while nonunion members earn $802 a week. Men (11.2%) are more likely to be union members than women (10.2%). African Americans (13%) were more likely to be union members than whites (10.5%), Asians (9%) or Hispanics (8.8%). Union membership is highest among workers age 45 to 64.
- Union membership rate for public-sector workers (34.4%) was substantially higher than those in the private-sector (6.4%). New York state had the highest number of union workers, while North Carolina had the lowest.
Union membership has been steadily declining since the mid-1980s, when membership was 17.7 million. How much of the decline was due to a growing disinterest among workers in unions or more restrictions on unions and union affiliation by legislation over the years isn’t clear.
Governors across the nation, usually Republican, pushed for right to work laws in their states that restricted the extent to which labor unions could require employee membership, fees or dues be a condition of employment.
The new Trump administration won’t likely promote union membership or support pro-labor legislation, especially if Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s pick as labor secretary, is confirmed (though his hearing has been pushed back for the fourth time).