Includes numerous TABLES....
In 2007, the number of workers belonging to a union rose by 311,000 to 15.7 million, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Union members accounted for 12.1 percent of employed wage and salary workers, essentially unchanged from 12.0 percent in 2006. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent. Some highlights from the 2007 data are:
--Workers in the public sector had a union membership rate nearly five times that of private sector employees.
--Education, training, and library occupations had the highest unioniz- ation rate among all occupations, at 37.2 percent, followed closely by protective service occupations at 35.2 percent.
--Among demographic groups, the union membership rate was highest for black men and lowest for Hispanic women.
--Wage and salary workers ages 45 to 54 (15.7 percent) and ages 55 to 64 (16.1 percent) were more likely to be union members than were workers ages 16 to 24 (4.8 percent).
Membership by Industry and Occupation
The union membership rate for public sector workers (35.9 percent) was substantially higher than for private industry workers (7.5 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 41.8 percent. This group includes many workers in several heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Private sector industries with high unionization rates include transportation and utilities (22.1 percent), telecommunications (19.7 per- cent), and construction (13.9 percent). In 2007, unionization rates were relatively low in agriculture and related industries (1.5 percent) and in financial activities (2.0 percent). (See table 3.)
Among occupational groups, education, training, and library occupations (37.2 percent) and protective service occupations (35.2 percent) had the highest unionization rates in 2007. Farming, fishing, and forestry occupa- tions (2.7 percent) and sales and related occupations (3.3 percent) had the lowest unionization rates. (See table 3.)
Demographic Characteristics of Union Members
In 2007, the union membership rate was higher for men (13.0 percent) than for women (11.1 percent). (See table 1.) The gap between their rates has narrowed considerably since 1983, when the rate for men was about 10 per- centage points higher than the rate for women. The rates for both men and women declined between 1983 and 2007, but the rate for men declined much more rapidly.
Black workers were more likely to be union members (14.3 percent) than were whites (11.8 percent), Asians (10.9 percent), or Hispanics (9.8 percent). Within these major groups, black men had the highest union membership rate (15.8 percent) while Hispanic women had the lowest rate (9.6 percent).
Among age groups, union membership rates were highest among workers 55 to 64 years old (16.1 percent) and 45 to 54 years old (15.7 percent). The low- est union membership rates occurred among those ages 16 to 24 (4.8 percent). Full-time workers were about twice as likely as part-time workers to be union members, 13.2 compared with 6.5 percent. (See table 1.)
Union Representation of Nonmembers
About 1.6 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union on their main job in 2007, while not being union members themselves. (See table 1.) Slightly more than half of these workers were employed in government. (See table 3.)
In 2007, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $863 while those who were not represented by unions had median weekly earnings of $663. (See table 2.) The difference reflects a variety of influences in addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agree- ment, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, firm size, or geographic region. (For a discussion of the problem of differentiating between the influence of unioniz- ation status and the influence of other worker characteristics on employee earnings, see "Measuring union-nonunion earnings differences," Monthly Labor Review, June 1990.)
Union Membership by State
In 2007, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 12.1 percent, while 20 states had higher rates. All states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions reported union member- ship rates above the national average and all states in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had rates below it. Union membership rates were down from those of 2006 in 27 states, up in 20 states, and unchanged in 3 states and the District of Columbia. (See table 5.)
Among the five states reporting union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2007, North Carolina posted the lowest rate (3.0 percent). The next low- est rates were recorded in Virginia (3.7 percent), South Carolina (4.1 per- cent), Georgia (4.4 percent), and Texas (4.7 percent). Four states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2007--New York (25.2 percent), Alaska (23.8 percent), Hawaii (23.4 percent), and Washington (20.2 percent).
The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million) and New York (2.1 million). Nearly half (7.8 million) of the 15.7 million union members in the U.S. lived in 6 states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.1 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Michigan, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.8 million; and New Jersey, 0.7 million) though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.
State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and union membership rate. Texas had less than one-quarter as many union mem- bers as New York despite having over 1.7 million more wage and salary employ- ees. Similarly, Tennessee and Hawaii had comparable numbers of union members even though Tennessee's wage and salary employment level was more than four and one-half times that of Hawaii.
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