Union Membership Rate in US Held at 10.7 Percent in 2017

Labor News

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Reprinted from Bloomberg News by Jordan Yadoo on January 19, 2017.

The share of American workers belonging to labor unions held steady in 2017, matching the historic low of 10.7 percent set in the prior year, according to a Labor Department report Friday.

The membership rate for wage and salary employees is down from 20.1 percent in 1983, when the government began tracking comparable data, and from more than one-third of workers in the 1950s, according to separate figures looking further back.

While the nation’s total employment of wage and salary workers rose by 1.8 million last year, the number of union members increased by just 262,000, to 14.8 million. That’s down from 17.7 million union workers in 1983. …

Bloomberg 1/19

 

Jacobin: Unions Held Their Own in 2017

Reprinted from Jacobin by Doug Henwood on January 20, 2017.

Unions had a pretty good year in 2017: they didn’t lose any ground.

According to the latest edition of the Bureau of Labor Statistics annual survey, released Friday morning, 10.7 percent of employed wage and salary workers were members of unions, unchanged from last year. There was a mild uptick in the share of private-sector workers represented by unions (aka union density), from 6.4 percent to 6.5 percent. Density was unchanged at 34.4 percent for public-sector workers — mildly surprising, given the war on labor being conducted by Republican governors and legislatures across the country.

2017’s flatness is a bit of stability amid a long-term decline; we saw similarly unchanged density readings in 2013 and 2015. While the rate of decline has slowed from the rapid rates of the 1980s and 1990s, density for private-sector workers was down 1.0 percentage points from 2007 to 2017; for the public sector,  it was down 1.5 points. Declining density is not new to the public sector — it peaked in 1994 at 38.7 percent, 4.3 points above last year’s reading — but the pace of slippage has accelerated over the last five years or so. …

Jacobin 1/20

About Jeffrey Burman 4165 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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