On January 27, 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of
the U.S. Department of Labor issued its report on union membership for
2011. It concluded that the percentages and numbers for 2011 was largely
unchanged from those for 2010. The overall "union membership rate" - that
is the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union - was
11.8%, essentially unchanged from 11.9% in 2010. The number of workers
belonging to unions in 2011 was 14.8 million. This also was about the
same as in 2010. BLS noted that in 1983, the first year for which
comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1% and
there were 17.7 million union workers.
The 2011 data reported by BLS in summary form
-Public-sector workers had a union membership rate
of 37.0% which is more than five times higher than that of private-sector
workers at 6.9%.
-Workers in education, training, and library occupations
had the highest unionization rate, at 36.8%.
-The lowest rate occurred in sales and related
occupations at 3%.
-Black workers were more likely to be union members than
were white, Asian, or Hispanic
-7.6 million employees in the public sector belonged
to a union, compared with 7.2 million
union workers in the private sector.
-Within the public sector, local government workers had
the highest union membership rate at 43.2%, consisting primarily of heavily
unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
-Private-sector industries with high unionization rates
included transportation and utilities at 21.1% and construction at 14%.
-Low unionization rates were seen in agriculture and
related industries at 1.4% and in financial activities at 1.6%.
-Among occupational groups, education, training, and
library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 36.8% and protective
service occupations came in at 34.5%.
- Sales and related occupations had the lowest rates at
3%, and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations were at 3.4%.
-The union membership rate was higher for men was
12.4% while for women it was 11.2%.
-By age, the union membership rate was highest among
workers 55 to 64 years old at 15.7%.
-The lowest union membership rate occurred among those
ages 16 to 24 at 4.4%.
Read about additional Labor and Employment
Law Developments by Edwin S. Hopson in
the Wyatt Employment Law
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