According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.8 million American workers were members of labor unions in 2015. That number hasn’t changed much from 2014, but it is a significant decrease from 1983, the first year for which comparable union data was available.
More than one-fifth of the U.S. workforce (17.7 million people) were in unions 33 years ago. As of last year, the percentage was down to 11.1.
Other union employment statistics include the following:
- The public-sector union membership rate (35.2%) is five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7%)
- Protective service (36.3%) and education, training and library occupations (35.5%) have the highest union membership rates
- Slightly more men (11.5%) than women (10.6%) are members of unions
- African American workers are more likely to be union members than white, Asian or Hispanic workers
- Comparing median wages on a broad level, union workers earn 21 percent higher income than non-union workers ($980 vs. $776/week)
- New York has the highest union membership rate in the country (24.7%); South Carolina has the lowest (2.1%)