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Economic News Release
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Union Members Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022 		                       USDL-22-0079

Technical information:	(202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:		(202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                                       UNION MEMBERS -- 2021                                       


In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000)
to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions--the union membership rate--was 10.3
percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent
in 2020--when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number
of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 
unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which
comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were
17.7 million union workers.

These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a
monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment
and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For 
further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2021 data:

 --The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than
   five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)

 --The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library 
   occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)

 --Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent).
   The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983
   (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were
   24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.) 

 --Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
   (See table 1.)

 --Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who 
   were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are
   on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining 
   earnings differences.) (See table 2.)

 --Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 
   percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to
   have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the 
private sector. (See table 3.)

Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union
membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase 
of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in 
local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such
as police officers, firefighters, and teachers. 

The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However,
the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization
rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of
6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion 
pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7
percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical
services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance 
(1.5 percent). 

Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and
library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization
rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and 
related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal
care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations 
(4.0 percent). 

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the 
number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate 
for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women's union
membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union
membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers.
The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the
2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.) 

Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership
rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and 
Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for 
White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian
workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks,
and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower. 

By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent.
Younger workers--those ages 16 to 24--had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.

In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be 
considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent). 

Union Representation

In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 
2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage
point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union 
members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by
a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)

Earnings

Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169
in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to
coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of 
influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by
occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)

Union Membership by State

In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S.
average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South
Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average,
while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. 
(See table 5.)

Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest 
rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states
had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York 
(22.2 percent).

In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California
at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent
of wage and salary employment nationally.


 _______________________________________________________________________________________________
|												|
|               Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data               |
|												|
| Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the 	|
| coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, 	|
| including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should  |
| be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the 	|
| unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers |
| compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 	|
| reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union |
| workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at 	|
| www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-and-response-on-the-employment-situation-	|
| news-release.htm.										|
|_______________________________________________________________________________________________|




Last Modified Date: January 20, 2022