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Economic News Release
CPS CPS Program Links

Union Members Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Friday, January 21, 2011                    USDL-11-0063

Technical information:  (202) 691-6378  *  *
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  *

                                 UNION MEMBERS -- 2010

In 2010, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were
members of a union--was 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier, the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers be-
longing to unions declined by 612,000 to 14.7 million. In 1983, the first year for
which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 per-
cent, and there were 17.7 million union workers. The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Sur-
vey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains informa-
tion on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional
population age 16 and over. For more information see the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2010 data: //UNION2 QCT Resilio Test 10/3/2023//

   --The union membership rate for public sector workers (36.2  percent) was
     substantially higher than the rate for private sector workers (6.9 percent).
     (See table 3.)

   --Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest
     unionization rate at 37.1 percent. (See table 3.)

   --Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian,
     or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

   --Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (24.2 percent)
     and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.2 percent). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1
million union workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public
sector workers (36.2 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private
sector workers (6.9 percent). Within the public sector, local government workers
had the highest union membership rate, 42.3 percent. This group includes workers in
heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and fire fighters.
Private sector industries with high unionization rates included transportation and
utilities (21.8 percent), telecommunications (15.8 percent), and construction (13.1
percent). In 2010, low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related indus-
tries (1.6 percent) and in financial activities (2.0 percent). (See table 3.)

Among occupational groups, education, training, and library occupations (37.1 per-
cent) and protective service occupations (34.1 percent) had the highest unionization
rates in 2010.  Sales and related occupations (3.2 percent) and farming, fishing, and
forestry occupations (3.4 percent) had the lowest unionization rates. (See table 3.)

Demographic Characteristics of Union Members

The union membership rate was higher for men (12.6 percent) than for women (11.1 per-
cent) in 2010. (See table 1.) The gap between their rates has narrowed considerably
since 1983, when the rate for men was about 10 percentage points higher than the rate
for women. Between 1983 and 2010, the union membership rate for men declined by almost
half (12.1 percentage points), while the rate for women declined by 3.5 percentage

In 2010, among major race and ethnicity groups, black workers were more likely to be
union members (13.4 percent) than workers who were white (11.7 percent), Asian (10.9
percent), or Hispanic (10.0 percent). Black men had the highest union membership rate
(14.8 percent), while Asian men had the lowest rate (9.4 percent).

By age, the union membership rate was highest among 55- to 64-year-old workers (15.7
percent). The lowest union membership rate occurred among those ages 16 to 24 (4.3

Union Representation

In 2010, 16.3 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group
includes both union members (14.7 million) and workers who report no union affiliation
but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million). (See table 1.) Govern-
ment employees (783,000) comprised about half of the 1.6 million workers who were
covered by a union contract but were not members of a union. (See table 3.)


In 2010, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual
weekly earnings of $917, while those who were not represented by unions had median
weekly earnings of $717. (See table 2.) In addition to coverage by a collective bar-
gaining agreement, the difference reflects a variety of influences including varia-
tions in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, in-
dustry, firm size, or geographic region.

Union Membership by State

In 2010, 31 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that
of the U.S. average, 11.9 percent, while 19 states had higher rates. All states in
the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions reported union membership rates above the
national average, and all states in the East South Central and West South Central divi-
sions had rates below it. Union membership rates declined over the year in 33 states
and the District of Columbia and rose in 17 states. (See table 5.)

Eight states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2010, with North Carolina
having the lowest rate (3.2 percent). The next lowest rates were recorded in Arkansas
and Georgia (4.0 percent each), Louisiana (4.3 percent), Mississippi (4.5 percent),
South Carolina and Virginia (4.6 percent each), and Tennessee (4.7 percent). Six states
had union membership rates over 17.0 percent in 2010: New York (24.2 percent), Alaska
(22.9 percent), Hawaii (21.8 percent), Washington (19.4 percent), California (17.5 per-
cent) and New Jersey (17.1 percent).

State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and union member-
ship rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.4 million) and
New York (2.0 million). About half of the 14.7 million union members in the U.S. lived
in just six states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.8 mil-
lion; Pennsylvania, 0.8 million; Ohio, 0.7 million; and New Jersey, 0.6 million), though
these states accounted for only one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.

Texas had about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite having 1.9 million
more wage and salary employees. Similarly, North Carolina and Hawaii had comparable num-
bers of union members (117,000 and 111,000, respectively), though North Carolina's wage
and salary employment level (3.7 million) was about seven times that of Hawaii (511,000).

Last Modified Date: October 03, 2023