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News Release Information

15-366-SAN
Thursday, March 05, 2015

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Technical information:
Media contact:
  • (415) 625-2270

Union Membership in California – 2014

In 2014, union members accounted for 16.3 percent of wage and salary workers in California, compared with 16.4 percent in 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that the union membership rate for the state was at its peak in 1989, when it averaged 18.9 percent, and at its low point in 2000 at 15.5 percent. (See chart 1 and table A.) Nationwide, union members accounted for 11.1 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2014, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013. Since 1989, when comparable state data became available, California union membership rates have been above the U.S. average.

California had 2,472,000 union members in 2014. In addition to these members, another 180,000 wage and salary workers in California were represented by a union on their main job or covered by an employee association or contract while not union members themselves. (See table A.) Nationwide, 14.6 million wage and salary workers were union members in 2014 and 1.6 million wage and salary workers were not affiliated with a union but had jobs covered by a union contract.

Table A. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers in California, annual averages, 2004-2014 (numbers in thousands)
YearTotal employedMembers of unions (1)Represented by unions (2)
TotalPercent of employedTotalPercent of employed

2004

14,4142,38516.52,58818.0

2005

14,6872,42416.52,61017.8

2006

14,5012,27315.72,44416.9

2007

14,8562,47416.72,65017.8

2008

14,8892,74018.42,90919.5

2009

14,2972,45317.22,62218.3

2010

13,8922,43117.52,57818.6

2011

13,9312,37917.12,53218.2

2012

14,4832,48917.22,66618.4

2013

14,8352,43016.42,57917.4

2014

15,1352,47216.32,65217.5

Footnotes:
(1) Data refer to members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
(2) Data refer to members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union, as well as workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.
 

Note: Data refer to the sole or principal job of full- and part-time wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers are excluded, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated businesses. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
 

In 2014, 19 states had union membership rates above the U.S. average, of which 9 had rates above 15.0 percent. (See table 1.) Of the nine states with the highest rates, five bordered the Pacific Ocean, three were located in the Northeast, and the remaining state was in the Midwest. (See chart 2.) New York had the highest rate at 24.6 percent, followed by Alaska (22.8 percent) and Hawaii (21.8 percent). New York has had the highest union membership rate in the nation for 18 of the past 20 years. One state, Vermont, had a union membership rate that matched the U.S. average.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the national average of 11.1 percent in 2014. Nine states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent. Among these nine states, seven were located in the South, one was in the Midwest, and one was in the West. North Carolina had the lowest rate at 1.9 percent. The next lowest rates were in South Carolina (2.2 percent) and Mississippi and Utah (3.7 percent each). Union membership rates declined over the year in 27 states and the District of Columbia, rose in 18 states, and were unchanged in 5 states.

State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and the union membership rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million) and New York (2.0 million). Over half of the 14.6 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.


Technical Note

The estimates in this release are obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which provides the basic information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment. The survey is conducted monthly for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau from a scientifically selected national sample of about 60,000 eligible households. The union membership data are tabulated from one-quarter of the CPS monthly sample and are limited to wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers are excluded.

Beginning in January of each year, data reflect revised population controls used in the CPS. Additional information about population controls is available on the BLS website at  www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#pop.

Reliability of the estimates

Statistics based on the CPS are subject to both sampling and nonsampling error. When a sample, rather than the entire population, is surveyed, there is a chance that the sample estimates may differ from the "true" population values they represent. The exact difference, or sampling error, varies depending upon the particular sample selected, and this variability is measured by the standard error of the estimate. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the "true" population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence. The state discussion in this release preserves the longtime practice of highlighting the direction of the movements in state union membership rates and levels regardless of their statistical significance.

The CPS data also are affected by nonsampling error. Nonsampling error can occur for many reasons, including the failure to sample a segment of the population, inability to obtain information for all respondents in the sample, inability or unwillingness of respondents to provide correct information, and errors made in the collection or processing of the data.

Information about the reliability of data from the CPS and guidance on estimating standard errors is available at www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm#reliability.

Definitions

The principal definitions used in this release are described briefly below.

Union members. Data refer to members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.

Union membership rate. Data refer to the proportion of total wage and salary workers who are union members.

Represented by unions. Data refer to both union members and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.

Wage and salary workers. Workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group includes employees in both the private and public sectors. Union membership and earnings data exclude all self-employed workers, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated businesses.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200, Federal Relay Service: 800-877-8339.

Table 1. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state, 2013–2014 annual averages (Numbers in thousands)
State20132014
Total employedMembers of unions(1)Represented by unions(2)Total employedMembers of unions(1)Represented by unions(2)
TotalPercent of employedTotalPercent of employedTotalPercent of employedTotalPercent of employed

Alabama

1,89420310.722211.71,88720410.822812.1

Alaska

3067123.17524.53077022.87524.4

Arizona

2,4521225.01476.02,5931385.31736.7

Arkansas

1,072383.5444.11,108524.7605.4

California

14,8352,43016.42,57917.415,1352,47216.32,65217.5

Colorado

2,2431717.62079.22,3282219.525010.7

Connecticut

1,53520713.522014.31,56423114.824515.7

Delaware

3703810.34111.0384389.94311.3

District of Columbia

308299.33411.0325288.63510.7

Florida

7,6554145.45296.98,0424555.75617.0

Georgia

3,9582095.32486.33,9261704.31934.9

Hawaii

54912122.112923.657212421.813122.9

Idaho

617294.7365.8641345.3436.7

Illinois

5,39785115.888216.35,50083115.188016.0

Indiana

2,6822499.327510.32,80229910.733512.0

Iowa

1,42114310.1171121,45915610.718412.6

Kansas

1,252947.51068.41,287957.41169.0

Kentucky

1,73519411.2226131,71418911.021912.8

Louisiana

1,728754.3955.51,834965.21186.4

Maine

5746411.17513.15666211.07112.5

Maryland

2,66530811.634913.12,61231011.934713.3

Massachusetts

2,94040113.743014.63,03641513.744514.7

Michigan

3,88963316.365616.94,02858514.563115.7

Minnesota

2,53236214.3381152,53836014.238015.0

Mississippi

1,040383.7444.21,028383.7464.5

Missouri

2,5372198.626410.42,5592148.42499.7

Montana

4035213.06014.84145212.75713.8

Nebraska

870637.3799877647.3799.0

Nevada

1,15416914.618616.11,17316914.419216.4

New Hampshire

623609.66710.7626629.97211.5

New Jersey

3,81461116.063216.63,86063516.566417.2

New Mexico

751466.2557.3763435.7567.4

New York

8,1491,98624.42,10425.88,0601,98024.62,08125.8

North Carolina

3,8791173.01844.83,936761.91263.2

North Dakota

342226.4298.5353185.0246.9

Ohio

4,78660512.667414.14,95861512.468813.9

Oklahoma

1,5161147.51449.51,465896.01067.2

Oregon

1,50420813.922314.81,55424315.626417.0

Pennsylvania

5,50170112.775413.75,52570312.775413.7

Rhode Island

4597716.98217.84536815.17215.8

South Carolina

1,855693.7864.71,884412.2613.2

South Dakota

362174.8215.8363184.9226.0

Tennessee

2,5431556.11887.42,5141275.01415.6

Texas

10,8775184.8647611,2055434.87006.2

Utah

1,253493.9675.41,236463.7574.6

Vermont

2853110.93813.22863211.13713.1

Virginia

3,6011805.02296.43,6651794.92286.2

Washington

2,88254618.956819.72,91449116.853618.4

West Virginia

6868712.79313.56877310.68011.6

Wisconsin

2,56931712.333713.12,62630611.732712.5

Wyoming

259155.7176.4255176.7197.5

Footnotes:
(1) Data refer to members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
(2) Data refer to both union members and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.
 

Note: Data refer to the sole or principal job of full- and part-time wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers are excluded, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated businesses. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
 

 

Last Modified Date: Thursday, March 05, 2015