Union Membership Falls Slightly
The percentage of waged and salary workers who were union members in 2011 was 11.8 percent, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate is only slightly less than the 11.9 percent recorded in 2010. The total number of members ended at 14.8 million for the year; also virtually unchanged over the year. Union membership has continued to decline since data collection began in 1983, when the membership rate was 20.1 percent and members numbered 17.7 million workers.
Other data collected from the Current Population Survey taken December 2011offered more specific information regarding union membership within subsection of public and private-sector employees. Public employees were over five times more likely to be union members than private employees, recording rates of 37 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively. The highest unionization in workplaces took place in occupations within education, training, and libraries, measuring 36.8 percent. The lowest rates occurred in occupations within sales and sales related occupations, measuring a rate of 3 percent.
Employees most likely to be union members were black, with 15 percent of black workers being unionized. Whites were the next most likely block with the likelihood of a white employee being a union member set at 12.8 percent. Asians and Hispanics were third and fourth on the list with rates of 11.2 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. The state of New York continues to report the highest unionization of employees in the nation with 24.1 percent of its workers being union members. The state with the lowest rate of employee union members was North Carolina at 2.9 percent.