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Supply Chain News: US Unionization Rates Fall again, BLS Says


Very Pro-Labor Biden Administration cannot Halt the Slide

Feb. 7, 2023

Despite A very pro-Labor Biden administration, unionization rates fell again in the US in 2022, according the fresh data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week.

Supply Chain Digest Says...


Eleven states had union membership rates below 5.0% in 2022. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7%), followed by North Carolina (2.8%) and South Dakota (3.1%).

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The BLS found that at the end of last year, the overall US union membership rate was 10.1%, down from 10.3% in 2021. In fact, the 2022 unionization rate is now the lowest on record. In 1983, the first year for which comparable data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1%.

The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2022, increased by 273,000, or 1.9%, from 2021.

However, the total number of wage and salary workers grew by 5.3 million (mostly among non-union workers), or 3.9%. This disproportionately large increase in the number of total wage and salary employment compared with the increase in the number of union members led to a decrease in the union membership rate.

In 2022, the BLS says, men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.5%) than women (9.6%). However, the gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983, when rates for men and women were 24.7% and 14.6%, respectively. The difference between the unionization rates for men and women has been less than 1 percentage point in each of the last three years; the difference back in 1983 was 10.1 percentage points.

For a long time, the prototypical union shop hasn’t been a private auto or steel plant but a public school. Yet the unionized share of government employees also fell last year.

The union membership rate of public-sector workers as 33.1% in 2022, versus 31.8% in 2021. Still, the rate of unionization for government workers continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.0%, from 6.1% in 2021).

Interestingly, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2022, at 12.6%. Younger workers - those ages 16 to 24) had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.4%.


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Eleven states had union membership rates below 5.0% in 2022. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7%), followed by North Carolina (2.8%) and South Dakota (3.1%).

Two states had union membership rates over 20.0% in 2022: Hawaii (21.9%) and New York (20.7%).

The workforce in 2012 was 11.3% unionized, and in 2002 it was 13.3%. Organized labor hasn’t been able to stop the trend, despite frantic unionization drives, including many aimed at non-traditional members, such as the university graduate students, some of whom work under the United Auto Workers banner. The 6.0% of private sectors who are in unions is down from 8.6% two decades ago.

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