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Economic News Release
CPS CPS Program Links

Union Members Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Tuesday, January 23, 2024		                       USDL-24-0096

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  *  *
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  *

                              UNION MEMBERS -- 2023

The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of
unions--was 10.0 percent in 2023, little changed from the previous year, the U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to
unions, at 14.4 million, also showed little movement over the year. In 1983, the first
year for which comparable data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent
and there were 17.7 million union workers.

These data on union membership 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 further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2023 data:

 --The union membership rate of public-sector workers (32.5 percent) continued to be more
   than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.0 percent). (See
   table 3.)

 --The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library
   occupations (32.7 percent) and protective service occupations (31.9 percent). (See
   table 3.)

 --Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.5 percent) than women (9.5
   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 86 percent of earnings for
   workers who were union members ($1,090 versus $1,263). (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 had the highest union membership rates (24.1 percent
   and 20.6 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest
   (2.3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2023, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, compared with 
7.4 million workers in the private sector. (See table 3.)

In the public sector, both union membership and the union membership rate (32.5 percent)
were little changed over the year. In 2023, the union membership rate continued to be
highest in local government (38.4 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized
occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

The number of union workers employed in the private sector increased by 191,000 to 7.4
million in 2023, while the unionization rate was unchanged at 6.0 percent. Industries 
with high unionization rates included utilities (19.9 percent), transportation and 
warehousing (15.9 percent), educational services (12.9 percent), and motion picture and
sound recording industries (12.1 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance
(1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.3 percent), food services and 
drinking places (1.4 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).

In 1983, the first year for which comparable data are available, the union membership 
rate for private-sector workers in nonagricultural industries was 16.8 percent. Since 
that time, this rate (at 6.1 percent in 2023) has generally trended down. The public-
sector union membership rate showed little net change from 1983 (36.7 percent) to 2011
(37.0 percent) but has since declined to 32.5 percent. 

Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2023 were in education,
training, and library occupations (32.7 percent) and in protective service occupations
(31.9 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in sales and related occupations (2.9 
percent), food preparation and serving related occupations (3.2 percent), computer and
mathematical occupations (3.8 percent), and management occupations (4.1 percent).

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

In 2023, the unionization rate for women was little changed over the year at 9.5 percent,
while the rate for men was unchanged at 10.5 percent. Both the number of women, at 6.6
million, and the number of men, at 7.8 million, who were union members changed little
over the year. (See table 1.)

Among the major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union
membership rate in 2023 (11.8 percent) than White workers (9.8 percent), Asian workers
(7.8 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rates of Asian 
workers, White workers, Black workers, and Hispanic workers were little different from 2022.

By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2023, at 12.6 percent.
Younger workers--those ages 16 to 24--had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.4 percent.

In 2023, the union membership rate for full-time workers (10.9 percent) was more than double
that for part-time workers (5.2 percent).

Union Representation

In 2023, 16.2 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, little different
than in 2022. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.2 percent in 2023, 
also little different than a year earlier. Workers represented by a union include both union
members (14.4 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered
by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)


Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of
$1,263 in 2023, while nonunion workers had median usual weekly earnings of $1,090. 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. (See tables 2 and 4.)

Union Membership by State

In 2023, 31 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the U.S. average
(10.0 percent), while 19 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.)

Eleven states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2023. South Carolina had the
lowest rate (2.3 percent). The next lowest rates were in North Carolina and South Dakota (2.7
percent and 3.6 percent, respectively). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent
in 2023: Hawaii (24.1 percent) and New York (20.6 percent).

In 2023, about 29 percent of the 14.4 million union members lived in just two states 
(California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these two states accounted
for 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.

Last Modified Date: January 23, 2024