Union membership declines in 2012

January 24, 2013

In 2012, the union membership rate—the percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of a union—was 11.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent in 2011. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year.

Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers, 2011–2012

Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers, annual averages, 1983–2012
YearTotal
union members
Union members
as a percent of wage and salary workers
Total
represented by unions
Represented by unions
as a percent of wage and salary workers

1983

17,717,00020.120,532,00023.3

1984

17,340,00018.819,932,00021.6

1985

16,996,00018.019,358,00020.5

1986

16,975,00017.519,278,00019.9

1987

16,913,00017.019,051,00019.2

1988

17,002,00016.819,241,00019.0

1989

16,960,00016.419,198,00018.6

1990(1)

16,776,00016.019,105,00018.2

1991(1)

16,612,00016.018,790,00018.1

1992(1)

16,418,00015.718,578,00017.7

1993(1)

16,627,00015.718,682,00017.6

1994

16,748,00015.518,850,00017.5

1995

16,360,00014.918,346,00016.7

1996

16,269,00014.518,158,00016.2

1997

16,110,00014.117,923,00015.6

1998

16,211,00013.917,918,00015.4

1999

16,477,00013.918,182,00015.3

2000(2)

16,334,00013.418,153,00014.9

2001

16,305,00013.318,026,00014.7

2002

16,145,00013.317,695,00014.5

2003

15,776,00012.917,448,00014.3

2004

15,472,00012.517,087,00013.8

2005

15,685,00012.517,223,00013.7

2006

15,359,00012.016,860,00013.1

2007

15,670,00012.117,243,00013.3

2008

16,098,00012.417,761,00013.7

2009

15,327,00012.316,904,00013.6

2010

14,715,00011.916,290,00013.1

2011

14,764,00011.816,290,00013.0

2012(3)

14,366,00011.315,922,00012.5

Footnotes:
(1) Data for 1990–93 have been revised to reflect population controls from the 1990 Census.
(2) Beginning in 2000, data reflect population controls from Census 2000 and new industry and occupational classification systems.
(3) Beginning in 2012, data incorporate population controls from Census 2010.
 

In 2012, 15.9 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group includes both union members (14.4 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million).

A total of 7.3 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union in 2012, compared with 7.0 million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.9 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.6 percent).

Union membership rate of employed wage and salary workers, by industry, 2011–2012

Union membership rate of employed wage and salary workers, by industry, annual averages, 2011–2012
 Percent of total employed
Industry20112012

Private sector, total

6.96.6

Agriculture and related

1.41.4

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

7.27.2

Construction

14.013.2

Manufacturing

10.59.6

Wholesale and retail trade

4.84.7

Transportation and utilities

21.120.6

Information

10.19.7

Financial activities

1.61.9

Professional and business services

2.12.4

Education and health services

8.68.1

Leisure and hospitality

2.72.7

Other

3.42.5

Public sector, total

37.035.9

Federal government

28.126.9

State government

31.531.3

Local government

43.241.7

Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 41.7 percent. This group includes workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and utilities (20.6 percent) and construction (13.2 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.4 percent) and in financial activities (1.9 percent).

These data on union membership are from the Current Population Survey. Unionization data are for wage and salary workers. Find out more in "Union Members — 2012" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-13-0105.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Union membership declines in 2012 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130124.htm (visited October 22, 2014).

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