The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 16.3 million waged and salary workers were members of a union in 2011. However, union members only accounted for 14.8 million of that number while non-union employees working for employers covered by a union contract numbered the remaining 1.5 million. About half of the 1.5 million non-union members were composed by government employees.
During the year, full-time union workers earned a median weekly income of $938 while non-union members earned a weekly median income of $729. The national average rate for union membership was at 11.8 percent during 2011. Of the states, 29 and Washington, D.C. had union membership rates below that average and 21 states reported above average rates. Of those states reporting above average rates, most were located within the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific division, with all states within these regions reporting higher rates. All states in the East South Central and West South Central regions reported lower than average rates. The 29 states which reported lower than average rates, plus D.C., reported union membership declines over the year. Of the above average states, 19 saw increased membership rates and two remained unchanged.
Union rates were especially low (less than 5 percent) in North Carolina (2.9 percent), South Carolina (3.4 percent), Georgia (3.9 percent), Arkansas (4.2 percent), and Tennessee and Virginia (4.6 percent each). In contrast, three states posted membership rates above 20 percent and included New York (24.1 percent), Alaska (22.1 percent), and Hawaii (21.5 percent).