Home > Uncategorized > Union membership rates in the US 1983-2016 – 3 graphs

Union membership rates in the US 1983-2016 – 3 graphs

from David Ruccio


source (pdf)

The share of American workers in unions fell to 10.7 percent in 2016 (down from 11.1 percent in 2015), the lowest level on record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf).

What we’re seeing is a return to the downward trend for organized labor after membership figures had stabilized in recent years—and this is before the new Republican administration even took office. 


source (pdf)

Union membership in the private sector fell by 119 thousand and the membership rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.4 percent. There was a slightly larger decrease in union membership in the public sector (down 121 thousand), corresponding to a 0.8 percentage-point drop in the public sector membership rate to 34.4 percent.

Although public sector workers are more likely than their private sector counterparts to be union members, there are still more private-sector union members (7.4 million) than public-sector union members (7.1 million). That’s because public-sector workers account for only about 15 percent of the workforce.



source (pdf)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish union data by education level. However, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (pdf), union membership rates rise as education level increases

therefore workers with an advanced degree are the most likely to be union members. In 2016, their membership rate decreased 0.9 percentage point to 16.0 percent. The membership rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree fell 0.5 percentage point to 10.4 percent. Workers with some college but no degree and those with a high school degree all saw their membership rates decrease 0.3 percentage point to 10.6 percent and 9.9 percent, respectively. Workers with less than a high school degree had a union membership rate of 5.4 percent in 2016, the same as in 2015.

  1. Rhonda Kovac
    February 1, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Not only is union membership down, union power for those few they represent has been gutted. Seen any strikes lately?

  2. patrick newman
    February 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Much the same in the UK but recently unions have had to work with more repressive legislation, particularly that affecting the public sector, e.g minimum voting thresholds, conduct of disputes, cost of employment tribunals etc.Furthermore the draconian austerity applied to the public sector has seen between half a million and a million jobs lost with the concomitant reduction in union membership. The correlation of these graph lines with those of the reduction in relative earnings against GDP and growth in productivity and wealth must be almost self evident. There is a message for unions here in constructing a strategy to increase penetration in the work place including thinking out of the box to deal with the ubers and the deliveroo’s of this world!

  3. patrick newman
    February 1, 2017 at 4:39 pm
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.