Union density down slightly in 2014: Annual report

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that union density was 11.1 percent in 2014, down 0.2 percent from the year before. During the year, unions added 48,000 members, but the overall workforce grew more.

The agency’s annual survey for 2014 also showed the median weekly wage of union members was $207 more than the weekly median wage for non-unionists.

And unlike other female workers, union women practically matched union men in weekly earnings. The median wage last year for union women was $904, or 89 percent of the $1,015 weekly wage for union men. The median for non-union women was $687, or 82 percent of the $840 weekly median for non-union men. The combined edge was $970 to $763.

In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data is available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

As in prior year’s surveys, unionists were concentrated in the Northeast, the Great Lakes states and on the Pacific Coast, and were few and far between south of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers and – except for Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri – from the Mississippi to the Rockies.

More than half of all 14.576 million union members lived in New York, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and California. New York was the most union-dense (24.6 percent), while North Carolina (1.9 percent) stayed in last place – and its density declined from 3 percent the year before. Two other Pacific states, Alaska and Hawaii were also over 20 percent unionized.

California had the most unionists, 2.472 million, up 42,000 from 2013. Then came New York (1.98 million, down 6,000), Illinois (831,000, down 20,000), Pennsylvania (701,000, up 2,000), New Jersey (635,000, up 24,000), Ohio (615,000, up 10,000) and Michigan (585,000, down 48,000).

Besides California, big numbers jumps were in New Jersey, Oregon and Connecticut. Unions in each added more than 20,000 members. Union density rose by 1.7 percent in Oregon, to 15.6 percent, 1.3 percent in Connecticut, to 14.8 percent.

Thanks to labor laws which make it tough to organize private-sector workplaces, union density in public sector jobs, 35.7 percent, was more than five times the density in the private sector, 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Both density numbers were virtually unchanged from 2013.

Unions had 7.358 million private sector workers and 7.218 million in the public sector. In both sectors combined, there were – again – almost 1.5 million workers who were represented by unions, but not members.

The most-unionized occupations were local government (41.9 percent), utilities (22.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.8 percent), and construction (13.9 percent).

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