For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Friday, January 22, 2021 USDL-21-0081 Technical information: firstname.lastname@example.org * www.bls.gov/cps Media contact: (202) 691-5902 * PressOffice@bls.gov UNION MEMBERS -- 2020 In 2020, the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--the union membership rate--was 10.8 percent, up by 0.5 percentage point from 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2020, was down by 321,000, or 2.2 percent, from 2019. However, the decline in total wage and salary employment was 9.6 million (mostly among nonunion workers), or 6.7 percent. The disproportionately large decline in total wage and salary employment compared with the decline in the number of union members led to an increase in the union membership rate. 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. Union membership data 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 noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note in this news release. _______________________________________________________________________________________ | | | Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2020 Union Members Data | | | | Data on union members for 2020 reflect the impact on the labor market of the | | coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it. Comparisons with union | | membership measures for earlier years, including metrics such as the union membership | | rate and the median usual weekly earnings of union members, should be interpreted | | with caution. The overall union membership rate and the rates by many demographic and | | employment characteristics increased despite declines in the number of union members. | | These increases reflect the disproportionately large decline in total wage and salary | | employment (mostly among nonunion workers) compared with the decline in the number of | | union members. Increases in median weekly earnings reflect the disproportionately | | large decline in employment in 2020, notably among lower-paid workers, such as those | | in the leisure and hospitality industry. More information on labor market | | developments in recent months is available at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid- | | 19-pandemic-and-response-on-the-employment-situation-news-release.htm. | |_______________________________________________________________________________________| Highlights from the 2020 data: --The union membership rate of public-sector workers (34.8 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.3 percent). (See table 3.) --The highest unionization rates were among workers in protective service occupations (36.6 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (35.9 percent). (See table 3.) --Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.0 percent) than women (10.5 percent). (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 84 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($958 versus $1,144). (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 continued to have the highest union membership rates (23.7 percent and 22.0 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (2.9 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively). (See table 5.) Industry and Occupation of Union Members In 2020, 7.2 million employees in the public sector and 7.1 million workers in the private sector belonged to unions. Union membership decreased by 428,000 in the private sector and showed little change in the public sector. The union membership rate increased over the year in the public sector by 1.2 percentage points to 34.8 percent, reflecting a decline in total public-sector wage and salary employment (-391,000). Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest in local government (41.7 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers. The unionization rate for private-sector workers increased by 0.1 percentage point to 6.3 percent in 2020, reflecting the net effect of declines in both the number of union members in the private sector and the steep drop in private- sector employment. Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included utilities (20.6 percent), transportation and warehousing (17.0 percent), and telecommunications (14.3 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), finance (1.2 percent), and professional and technical services (1.3 percent). (See table 3.) Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2020 were in protective service occupations (36.6 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (35.9 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (2.6 percent); sales and related occupations (3.2 percent); and food preparation and serving related occupations (3.4 percent). Selected Characteristics of Union Members In 2020, the number of men who were union members decreased by 368,000, while the number of women who were union members was little changed. The union membership rate for women increased by 0.8 percentage point to 10.5 percent, and the rate for men was up by 0.2 percentage point to 11.0 percent. The large declines in nonunion employment among both men and women put upward pressure on their union membership rates. (See table 1.) The gap between their rates 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. Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2020 (12.3 percent) than White workers (10.7 percent), Asian workers (8.9 percent), or Hispanic workers (9.8 percent). The number of White union members decreased by 264,000, while the numbers of Black, Asian, and Hispanic union members showed little change. The union membership rate for Black workers (+1.1 percentage points), Hispanic workers (+0.9 percentage point), and White workers (+0.4 percentage point) increased over the year, while the rate for Asian workers changed little. The increases in the union membership rates reflect declines in total wage and salary employment for these groups, principally among nonunion workers. By age, union membership rates continued to be highest among workers ages 45 to 64. In 2020, 13.2 percent of workers ages 45 to 54 and 13.0 percent of those ages 55 to 64 were union members. In 2020, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.8 percent) was about twice the rate for part-time workers (5.8 percent). Union Representation In 2020, 15.9 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 444,000 less than in 2019. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 12.1 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from 2019, reflecting the disproportionately large decline in total wage and salary employment. 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.) Earnings Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,144 in 2020, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $958. 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, as well as pandemic-related labor market effects in 2020. (See tables 2 and 4.) Union Membership by State In 2020, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.8 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. 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.) Nine states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2020. South Carolina had the lowest rate (2.9 percent). The next lowest rates were in North Carolina and Utah (3.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2020: Hawaii (23.7 percent) and New York (22.0 percent). Over half of the 14.3 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 1.7 million; Illinois and Pennsylvania, 0.7 million each; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each). However, these states accounted for about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.