For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Friday, January 23, 2015 USDL-15-0072
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UNION MEMBERS -- 2014
In 2014, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were
members of unions--was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013, the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers
belonging to unions, at 14.6 million, was little different from 2013. 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 are 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 noninstitutional population
age 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.
Highlights from the 2014 data:
--Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.7 percent), more
than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 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 (11.7 percent) than women
(10.5 percent) in 2014. (See table 1.)
--Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian,
or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
--Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($763) were 79 percent of
earnings for workers who were union members ($970). (The comparisons of
earnings in this 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, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate
(24.6 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9 percent).
(See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2014, 7.2 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with
7.4 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector
workers (35.7 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers
(6.6 percent). Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local
government (41.9 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 (22.3 percent), transportation and warehousing
(19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.8 percent), and construction (13.9 percent). Low
unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.1 percent), finance
(1.3 percent), professional and technical services (1.4 percent), and food services and
drinking places (1.4 percent). (See table 3.)
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2014 were in education,
training, and library occupations and protective service occupations (35.3 percent each).
The lowest unionization rates were in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (2.5 percent)
and sales and related occupations (3.1 percent). (See table 3.)
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
The union membership rate was higher for men (11.7 percent) than for women (10.5 percent)
in 2014. (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 2014 (13.2 percent) than workers who were white (10.8 percent), Asian (10.4 percent),
or Hispanic (9.2 percent).
By age, the union membership rate was highest among workers ages 45 to 64--13.8 percent for
those ages 45 to 54 and 14.1 percent for those ages 55 to 64.
The union membership rate was 12.3 percent for full-time workers, more than twice the rate
for part-time workers, 5.8 percent.
In 2014, 16.2 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group
includes both union members (14.6 million) and workers who report no union affiliation
but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million). (See table 1.)
In 2014, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly
earnings of $970, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $763.
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, age, firm size, or geographic region.
(See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2014, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the
U.S. average, 11.1 percent, 19 states had rates above it, and 1 state had a rate equal to that
of the nation. All states in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union
membership rates below the national average, and all states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific
divisions had rates above it. Union membership rates declined over the year in 27 states and
the District of Columbia, rose in 18 states, and were unchanged in 5 states. (See table 5.)
Nine states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2014, with North Carolina having
the lowest rate (1.9 percent). The next lowest rates were in South Carolina (2.2 percent) and
Mississippi and Utah (3.7 percent each). Three states had union membership rates over 20.0
percent in 2014: New York (24.6 percent), Alaska (22.8 percent), and Hawaii (21.8 percent).
(See chart 1.)
State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and the union membership
rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million) and New York
(2.0 million). Over half of the 14.6 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven
states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.8 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.