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‘Unions By The Numbers’ - The 2021 Edition

Published Sunday, February 21, 2021
by The National Law Review
‘Unions By The Numbers’ - The 2021 Edition

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on Labor Unions last month - detailing, at least numerically, where Unions currently stand in America. 

Relative to years past, there is some favorable data for Unions in this year’s report.

Overall, Union Membership increased on a percentage basis from 2019 to 2020.

According to the report:

In 2020, the percent of Wage and Salary Workers, who were Members of Unions - the Union Membership Rate - was 10.8%, up by 0.5 percentage point from 2019, the BLS reported.

The number of Wage and Salary Workers belonging to Unions, at 14.3 million in 2020, was down by 321,000, or 2.2%, from 2019.

However, the decline in total wage and salary employment was 9.6 million (mostly among Non-Union Workers), or 6.7%.

The disproportionately large decline in total wage and salary employment compared with the decline in the number of Union Members led to an increase in the Union Membership Rate.

In 1983, the first year for which comparable Union data are available, the Union Membership Rate was 20.1% and there were 17.7 million Union Workers.

There were several other notable highlights from the report:

Private Sector Union Membership rose slightly to 6.3%, up from 6.2% in 2019.

Public Sector Union Rates also increased to 34.8% from 33.6%.

Public Sector Union Membership remains about five times that of the Private Sector, but on a pure numbers basis, there are 7.2 million Public Sector Union Members as compared to 7.1 million Private Sector Union Workers. 

Protective Service, Education, Training and Library Occupations continued to see the highest Union Membership Rates at 35.9%. 

And the gender gap continues to close in terms of Union Membership, but more men (11%) still belong to Unions than women (10.5%).

The States of Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest Union Membership Rates at the state level (23.7% and 22%, respectively), and South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (2.9% and 3.1%, respectively)

As the Biden Administration assumes control of the Federal Government, it is was widely anticipated to enact Labor Laws and Regulations that will make it easier for Unions to organize new workforces, which could augment their numbers.

Time will tell if that is the case, however, as a host of other factors - such as company closures due to COVID-19, possible job losses in the heavily Unionized Fossil Fuels Industry due to a de-emphasis on those, etc. – will also impact Union Numbers in the coming years

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