Union Membership in the US

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report on 2012 union membership shows that union membership deceased marginally from 2010 to 2011, from 11.8% in 2010 to 11.1% in 2012. There is a long-term downward trend since 1983, when union membership stood at 20.1% of all wage and salary workers (See Figure 1).


Figure 1
There exists a disparity in union membership between youth workers and workers nearing retirement. The highest union membership rate, 15.6%, is for workers ages 55-64, much more than the only 4.2% of employed youth with union affiliation. Youth are more likely to find employment in sectors with lower membership rates. These include sales and related occupations, and food service occupations, with 3.5% and 4.5% union membership rates, respectively. The protective services occupations or education, training, and library occupations, with 36.5% (34.5%) and 39.2% (36.8%) union membership, respectively, are likely to require more training than can be attained by most people in their late teens or early twenties. Nonetheless, disproportionately low youth union membership remains a noteworthy observation.
The gap between men and women union membership has narrowed considerably: union membership for men dropped from 24.7% in 1983 to 12.0% in 2012. For women, membership dropped from 14.6% in 1983 to 10.5% in 2011.
Among racial groups black workers had a higher union membership rate (13.4%) than workers who were white (11.1 %), Asian (9.6%), or Hispanic (9.8%). Black men had the highest union membership rate (14.8%), while Asian men had the lowest rate (8.9%).
More than half of all U.S. union members live in just seven states: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio. And though the actual number of union members for the public and private sectors was relatively the same, union membership in the private sector was much lower, 6.6% of total workers versus the 35.9% of total workers in the public sector. Finally, in 2012, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $943, while non union members had median earnings of $742.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union Membership-2012. [Washington, D.C.:] U.S. Department of Labor, 2013. Web. 23 January 2013. < http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf>