New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the percentage of the workforce represented by a union fell to 11.1%, down from 11.3% the previous year. Overall, 14.6 million Americans belonged to a union in 2014. In 1983, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent with 17.7 million workers belonging to unions.
In the private sector, union membership fell from 6.7% to 6.6%, but unions in industries such as construction, leisure, and hospitality actually added members throughout the year. The Building Trades added 53,000 workers last year, the second straight year the unionized segment of that sector has gained. The two-year gains total 148,000 members. When excluding residential construction and non-production/supervisory employees, the unionized construction industry is approaches 40 percent density.
In a statement following the release of the data, Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions, said:
“The numbers released today by BLS are an affirmation of the collective efforts by our unions to re-position the union construction industry as a value-centric, preferred vendor-supplier of skilled craft construction labor services in the United States, and as a trusted community partner that is providing hope in the form of career training opportunities for many disadvantaged people, including and especially women, minorities and military veterans.”
Other key findings from the BLS’ 2014 data include:
–Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.7 percent), more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent).
–Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 35.3 percent for each occupation group.
–Men had a higher union membership rate (11.7 percent) than women (10.5 percent) in 2014.
–Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
–Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($763) were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($970). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.)
–Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.6 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9 percent).
In 2014 union membership declined in 27 states and the District of Columbia. It rose in 18 states and remained unchanged in five.