UNION MEMBERS -- 2013
News Release From the Bureau of Labor Statistics January 24, 2014
In 2013, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.3 percent, the same as in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.5 million, was little different from 2012. 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 were collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.
Highlights from the 2013 data:
--Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.3 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent). (See table 3.)
--Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 35.3 percent for each occupation group. (See table 3.)
--Men had a higher union membership rate (11.9 percent) than women (10.5 percent). (See table 1.)
--Black workers were more likely to be union members than white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
--Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.4 percent), and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.0 percent). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2013, 7.2 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.3 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.3 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.7 percent). Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local government (40.8 percent), which includes employees in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. In the private sector, industries with high unionization rates included utilities (25.6 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.4 percent), and construction (14.1 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.0 percent), finance (1.0 percent), and in food services and drinking places (1.3 percent). (See table 3.)
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2013 were in education, training, and library occupations and protective service occupations (35.3 percent each). Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (2.1 percent) and sales and related occupations (2.9 percent) had the lowest unionization rates. (See table 3.)
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
The union membership rate was higher for men (11.9 percent) than for women (10.5 percent) in 2013. (See table 1.) The gap between their rates has narrowed considerably since 1983, when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.
Among major race and ethnicity groups, black workers had a higher union membership rate in 2013 (13.6 percent) than workers who were white (11.0 percent), Asian(9.4 percent), or Hispanic (9.4 percent).
By age, the union membership rate was highest among workers ages 45 to 64--14.0 percent for those ages 45 to 54 and 14.3 percent for those ages 55 to 64.
Full-time workers were about twice as likely as part-time workers to be union members, 12.5 percent compared with 6.0 percent.
In 2013, 16.0 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group includes both union members (14.5 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.5 million). (See table 1.) Private-sector employees comprised more than half (810,000) of the 1.5 million workers who were covered by a union contract but were not members of a union. (See table 3.)
In 2013, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $950, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $750. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, this earnings difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, firm size, or geographic region. (See table 2.)
Union Membership by State
In 2013, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 11.3 percent, while 20 states had higher rates. All states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions reported union membership 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 declined over the year in 26 states, rose in 22 states and the District of Columbia, and remained unchanged in 2 states. (See table 5.)
Nine states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2013, with North Carolina having the lowest rate (3.0 percent). The next lowest rates were recorded in Arkansas (3.5 percent), Mississippi and South Carolina (3.7 percent each), and Utah (3.9 percent). Three states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2013: New York (24.4 percent), Alaska (23.1 percent),and Hawaii (22.1 percent).
State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and union membership rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.4 million) and New York (2.0 million). Over half of the 14.5 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.
Texas had about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite having 2.7 million more wage and salary employees. Conversely, North Carolina and Hawaii had comparable numbers of union members (117,000 and 121,000,respectively), though North Carolina's wage and salary employment level (3.9 million) was more than seven times that of Hawaii (549,000).