Wednesday, February 26, 2014
In 2013, union members accounted for 16.4 percent of wage and salary workers in California, compared with 17.2 percent in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See chart 1.) Regional Commissioner Richard J. Holden noted that the union membership rate for the state was at the series high of 18.9 percent in 1989, and at the series low of 15.5 percent in 2000. Nationally, union members accounted for 11.3 percent of employed wage and salary workers in 2013, the same as in 2012. Since 1989, when comparable state data became available, California union membership rates have exceeded the U.S. average.
California had 2,430,000 wage and salary workers who were union members in 2013. Additionally, another 149,000 workers in the state were represented by a union on their main job or covered by an employee association or contract while not being union members themselves. (See table A.) Nationwide, 14.5 million wage and salary workers were union members in 2013 and 1.5 million wage and salary workers were not affiliated with a union but had jobs covered by a union contract.
|Year||Total employed||Members of unions(1)||Represented by unions(2)|
|Total||Percent of employed||Total||Percent of employed|
NOTE: Data refer to the sole or principal job of full- and part-time wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers are excluded, both those with incorporated businesses as well as those with unincorporated businesses. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
In 2013, 20 states had union membership rates above the U.S. average, of which 9 had rates above 15 percent. (See table 1.) Of the nine states with the highest rates, two were located in the Midwest, three in the Northeast, and the remaining four bordered the Pacific Ocean. (See chart 2.) New York had the highest rate at 24.4 percent, followed by Alaska (23.1 percent) and Hawaii (22.1 percent). In fact, New York has had the highest union membership rate in the nation for 17 of the past 19 years.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the national average of 11.3 percent in 2013. Nine of these states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent with North Carolina having the lowest at 3.0 percent. The next lowest rate was recorded in Arkansas (3.5 percent), followed by Mississippi and South Carolina (both at 3.7 percent). Among the nine states with the lowest union membership rates, six were located in the South, two in the West, and one in the Midwest.
Over half of the 14.5 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.
State union membership levels depend on both the union membership rate and the employment level. For example, despite having a similar number of wage and salary employees statewide, Oklahoma had about one-half the number of union members as Oregon (114,000 and 208,000, respectively). Conversely, North Carolina and Hawaii had comparable numbers of union members (117,000 and 121,000, respectively), though North Carolina's wage and salary employment (3.9 million) was more than seven times that of Hawaii (549,000).
The estimates in this release are obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which provides the basic information on the labor force, employment, and unemployment. The survey is conducted monthly for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau from a scientifically selected national sample of about 60,000 households. The union membership and earnings data are tabulated from one-quarter of the CPS monthly sample and are limited to wage and salary workers. All self-employed workers are excluded.
Union membership data, particularly for levels, are not strictly comparable with data for earlier years because of the introduction of updated population controls used in the CPS. These updated controls have little or no effect on unemployment rates and other ratios, such as union membership rates. For technical documentation and related information, including reliability of the CPS estimates, see www.bls.gov/cps/documentation.htm.
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200, Federal Relay Service: 800-877-8339.
The principal definitions used in this release are described briefly below.
Union members. Members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
Represented by unions. Union members, as well as workers who have no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.
Wage and salary workers. Workers who receive wages, salaries, commissions, tips, payment in kind, or piece rates. The group includes employees in both the private and public sectors, but, for the purposes of the union membership and earnings series, excludes all self-employed persons, regardless of whether or not their businesses are incorporated.
|Total employed||Members of|
|Total employed||Members of|
|Total||Percent of employed||Total||Percent of employed||Total||Percent of employed||Total||Percent of employed|
District of Columbia
(1) Data refer to members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
NOTE: Data refer to the sole or principal job of full- and part-time wage and salary workers. Excluded are all self-employed workers regardless of whether or not their businesses are incorporated. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2014