UNION MEMBERS -- 2022
News Release from US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan 19, 2023
The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 10.1 percent in 2022, down from 10.3 percent in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2022, increased by 273,000, or 1.9 percent, from 2021. However, the total number of wage and salary workers grew by 5.3 million (mostly among nonunion workers), or 3.9 percent. This disproportionately large increase in the number of total wage and salary employment compared with the increase in the number of union members led to a decrease in the union membership rate. The 2022 unionization rate (10.1 percent) is the lowest on record. In 1983, the first year where comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
These 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 non-institutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.
Highlights from the 2022 data:
--The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.1 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.0 percent). (See table 3.)
--The highest unionization rates were among workers in protective service occupations (34.6 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (33.7 percent). (See table 3.)
--Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.5 percent) than women (9.6 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
--Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
--Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 85 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($1,029 versus $1,216). (The comparisons of earnings in this news 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, Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates (21.9 percent and 20.7 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2022, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, about the same as in the private sector (7.2 million). (See table 3.)
Union membership was little changed over the year (+80,000) in the public sector, after a decline the prior year (-191,000). The public-sector union membership rate continued to decline in 2022; the rate went down by 0.8 percentage point to 33.1 percent. In 2022, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (38.8 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector increased by 193,000 to 7.2 million over the year. The private-sector unionization rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point in 2022 to 6.0 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.6 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.5 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in insurance (1.2 percent), finance (1.3 percent), professional and technical services (1.3 percent), and food services and drinking places (1.4 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2022 were in protective service occupations (34.6 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (33.7 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in sales and related occupations (3.0 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.3 percent); food preparation and serving related occupations (3.6 percent); and management occupations (3.8 percent).
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
In 2022, the unionization rate for women decreased by 0.3 percentage point over the year to 9.6 percent while the rate for men was little changed at 10.5 percent. The number of women who were union members, at 6.5 million, changed little over the year, while the number of men who were union members increased by 248,000 to 7.8 million. (See table 1.)
Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2022 (11.6 percent) than White workers (10.0 percent), Asian workers (8.3 percent), and Hispanic workers (8.8 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.3 percentage point for White workers, while it increased by 0.6 percentage point for Asian workers. The union membership rates for Black workers and Hispanic workers were little different from 2021.
By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2022, at 12.6 percent. Younger workers--those ages 16 to 24--had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.4 percent.
In 2022, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.0 percent) was double than that for part-time workers (5.5 percent).
In 2022, 16.0 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, up slightly (+200,000) from 2021. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.3 percent in 2022, down by 0.3 percentage point from a year ago. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.3 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.7 million). (See table 1.)
Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,216 in 2022, while nonunion workers had median weekly earnings of $1,029. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2022, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.1 percent, while 19 states had rates above it and 1 state (New Hampshire) had the same rate. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5.)
Eleven states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2022. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.8 percent) and South Dakota (3.1 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2022: Hawaii (21.9 percent) and New York (20.7 percent).
In 2022, 30 percent of the 14.3 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.6 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.
BLS: Hawaii had the highest rate of union membership in 2022