The Workplace Report

Union Membership Fell Even Further in 2016

Latest BLS report on union membership shows even further decline of unions.


On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest statistics on the percentage of U.S. workers represented by unions.

After peaking at 35.5% at the end of World War II, union membership in the United States has continued to decline over the last 60 years to the point that, as of 2016, unions now only represent 10.7 percent of the overall workforce and only 6.4% in the private sector.


Here is the BLS release:

The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was 10.7 percent in 2016, down 0.4 percentage point from 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million in 2016, declined by 240,000 from 2015. 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 ages 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2016 data:

–Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (34.4 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent). (See table 3.)

–Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates (34.6 percent and 34.5 percent, respectively). (See table 3.)

–Men continued to have a slightly higher union membership rate (11.2 percent) than women (10.2 percent). (See table 1.)

–Black workers were more likely to be union members than were White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

–Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($802) were 80 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($1,004). (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 (23.6 percent), while South Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.6 percent). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2016, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with
7.4 million workers in the private sector.

See more here.

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