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Economic News Release
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Union Members Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Friday, January 22, 2021 			          USDL-21-0081

Technical information:	cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  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.



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Last Modified Date: January 22, 2021