Union membership rate in private industry was 6.6 percent in 2014; public sector 35.7 percent

January 28, 2015

In 2014, public-sector workers had a union membership rate of 35.7 percent. That was more than five times the rate for private-sector workers, 6.6 percent. Ten years earlier, the union membership rate for public-sector workers was 36.4 percent, and the rate for private-sector workers was 7.9 percent.

 Union membership as a percent of employed wage and salary workers by industry, 2004 and 2014 annual averages
Industry 2004 2014

Private sector, total

7.9 6.6

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

11.4 4.8

Construction

14.7 13.9

Manufacturing

12.9 9.7

Wholesale and retail trade

5.5 4.2

Transportation and utilities

24.9 20.1

Information(1)

14.2 8.6

Financial activities

2.0 2.0

Professional and business services

2.3 2.3

Education and health services

8.3 8.2

Leisure and hospitality

3.1 3.2

Other services(1)

2.8 2.9

Public sector, total

36.4 35.7

Federal government

29.9 27.5

State government

30.7 29.8

Local government

41.3 41.9
Footnotes:

(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.

Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local government, 41.9 percent in 2014. Local government includes employees in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters.

In the private sector, the transportation and utilities industry had the highest union membership rate in 2014 (20.1 percent). The rate for construction was 13.9 percent, and for manufacturing it was 9.7 percent. From 2004 to 2014, the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry had the largest decline in union membership, from 11.4 to 4.8 percent. 

Professional and business services (2.3 percent), financial activities (2.0 percent), and leisure and hospitality (3.2 percent) all had relatively low union membership rates.

In 2014, the union membership rate for wage and salary workers age 16 and older was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013. In 1983, the first year for which comparable data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent.

 Union membership as a percent of employed wage and salary workers, 1983–2014 annual averages
Year Percent

1983

20.1

1984

18.8

1985

18.0

1986

17.5

1987

17.0

1988

16.8

1989

16.4

1990

16.0

1991

16.0

1992

15.7

1993

15.7

1994

15.5

1995

14.9

1996

14.5

1997

14.1

1998

13.9

1999

13.9

2000

13.4

2001

13.3

2002

13.3

2003

12.9

2004

12.5

2005

12.5

2006

12.0

2007

12.1

2008

12.4

2009

12.3

2010

11.9

2011

11.8

2012

11.3

2013

11.3

2014

11.1

These data are from the Current Population Survey. To learn more, see "Union Members — 2014" (HTML) (PDF). The union membership rate is the percentage of wage and salary workers who are members of unions. The numbers exclude all self-employed workers.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Union membership rate in private industry was 6.6 percent in 2014; public sector 35.7 percent on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2015/union-membership-rate-in-private-industry-and-public-sector-in-2014.htm (visited December 10, 2016).

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