January Employment Law Bulletin
Unions’ Share of U.S. Workforce Shrank in 2018
According to a poll released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the percentage of U.S. workers over the age of 16 who are union members dipped from 10.7% to 10.5% in 2018. The actual number of union members decreased from 14,817,000 to 14,744,000, even while the workforce grew by about 2.2 million jobs overall. There are many interesting aspects to and surprises within the BLS’s report and other studies on unionization.
The drop in union membership is a bit of a surprise, as labor grew its membership rolls in the previous year by the biggest jump in more than a decade, including notable growth among employees ages 16-34. (See the November 2018 ELB for more about how and why labor felt it ended 2018 on an optimistic note). Public opinion was broadly favorable to unions, according to an August 2018 Gallup poll. Democrats, who tend to be supported by labor, were more successful, on a national level, than Republicans in November 2018. Yet, unions weren’t able to convert this momentum into membership gains in 2018.
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