Union Membership Rises Again in 2008 (BLS)

Just in from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hat-tip to Doug Henwood at lbo-talk. As Doug pointed out, two years in a row of increases (after years and years of decline) is pretty impressive, especially under a Republican administration.


In 2008, union members accounted for 12.4 percent of employed wage
and salary workers, up from 12.1 percent a year earlier, the U.S.
Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The
number of workers belonging to a union rose by 428,000 to 16.1 million.
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.

The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current
Population Survey (CPS). The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000
households that obtains information on employment and unemployment
among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and

Some highlights from the 2008 data are:

  • Government workers were nearly five times more likely to belong
    to a union than were private sector employees.
  • Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the
    highest unionization rate at 38.7 percent.
  • Black workers were more likely to be union members than were
    white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
  • Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate
    (24.9 percent) and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.5 percent).

Read the whole report.

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