Union membership rate stayed flat in 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the 2011 union members report Friday.

In 2011, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union--was 11.8 percent, essentially unchanged from 11.9 percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million, also showed little movement over the year. 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.

Not too much surprising in some highlights:

Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (37.0 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.9 percent).

Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 36.8 percent, while the lowest rate occurred in sales and related occupations (3.0 percent).

Mickey Kaus finds the major story.

Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are in unions. That’s the same percent as last year. In the middle of the 20th century, it was 35%. … The number is significant because it suggests that labor’s much-publicized private sector organizing drives have failed. They appeared to be meeting with some success a few years ago–the private sector rate actually rose from 7.4% to 7.6% between 2006 and 2008. Those union gains have now apparently been lost, and the private sector unionization rate again asymptotically approaches zero.

Little wonder the news out of Indiana is capturing so much attention today.


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