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Union Members Drops Further

The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was…

  • February 12, 2019

The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was 10.5 percent in 2018, down by 0.2 percentage point from 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.7 million in 2018, was little changed from 2017. 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 union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent).

The highest unionization rates were among workers in protective service occupations (33.9 percent) and in education, training, and library occupations (33.8 percent).

Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (11.1 percent) than women (9.9 percent).

Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers.

Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 82 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($860 versus $1,051).

(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, Hawaii and New York had the highest union membership rates (23.1 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively), while North Carolina and South Carolina had the lowest (2.7 percent each).

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