The latest annual statistics on union membership in America are out. The overall union membership rate is holding steady at 11.1%. If you are not a New Yorker or a public employee, your union rates are miserable.
Every year, the government releases data on our nation’s union membership rates. An analysis of the new numbers by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that the lowly 11.1% union rate overall masks several distinct trends.
- The older you are, the more likely you are to belong to a union.
- The more education you have, the more likely you are to belong to a union.
- Black workers are significantly more likely to be in a union (13.6%) than white (10.8%) or Asian or Latino (both under 10%) workers.
- Over the past 30 years, union membership for men has declined much more sharply than union membership among women; whereas men used to be much more likely to be union members, the gap is now just one percentage point.
- Union membership in the public sector is 35.2%, a figure that has held more or less steady for the past 30 years, though it now faces a significant legal threat in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, private sector union membership stands at just 6.7%, and has declined by more than half in the same time period.
- Union membership rates vary widely by state, from the most union-friendly (New York, at 24.7%) to the most union-unfriendly (Texas, at 4.5%). These are closely correlated to politics—the least-unionized states are all “Right to Work” states.
All of these trends, however, are overshadowed by one much larger trend: union membership rates in America are much, much too low.
In the age of inequality in which we live, unionizing your workplace is one of the few really meaningful steps that average people can take to fight back against overwhelming economic forces. Give it a try in 2016. It’s better than drinking Dewshine.