Private Sector Union Membership Increases Slightly – California Union Membership Down

Jan 30 2014 - Labor Relations - Gail Cecchettini Whaley

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released 2013 data on union membership. The overall U.S. union membership rate, the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions, remained unchanged from 2012 at 11.3 percent.

Overall, 16 million workers were represented by a union in 2013. This includes both union members (14.5 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.5 million).

The percentage of private sector employees who belong to a union rose just slightly to 6.7 percent in 2013 from 6.6 percent in 2012. By contrast, public sector union membership for 2013 was 35.3 percent; a rate more than five times that of private-sector workers.

For private sector employers, the highest union membership rates last year were found in the transportation/warehousing and utilities industries.

Interestingly, according to the BLS, the largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.4 million) and New York (2.0 million). In addition, more than half of the 14.5 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each), even though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.

California union membership decreased in 2013 to 16.4 percent of public and private workers, down from 17.2 percent in 2012.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Employment Law Counsel/Content

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