Union membership down, Labor Department says

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U.S. Department of Labor seal
U.S. Department of Labor seal

Across the country, the percentage of workers who belonged to unions decreased 0.4 percentage points from 2015 to 2016, according to new data from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate last year was 10.7%, or 14.6 million wage and salary earners. That compares with 20.1%, or 17.7 million workers, in 1983, the first year for which comparable data exist.

The data were collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of approximately 60,000 eligible households.

Other highlights:

  • Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers, at $802, were 80% of earnings for workers who were union members, which had a median of $1,004.
  • Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate, 23.6%, whereas South Carolina continued to have the lowest, 1.6%.
  • Among private-sector industries, union membership ranged from a high of 21.5% in utilities to a low of 1.2% in finance. The healthcare and social assistance industry had a 7.1% rate of union membership; real estate rental and leasing, 4.9%; and professional and business services, including management and administration, 2.4%.
  • Among occupations, membership ranged from a high of 34.6% for education, training and library occupations to a low of 3.1% in sales and related occupations. Healthcare support occupations had a 6.9% rate of union membership, and personal care and service occupations had a 6.1% rate.

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