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Union Membership in U.S. Unchanged in 2015

Union Membership in U.S. Unchanged in 2015 Members of SEIU 32BJ protest on Park Ave ahead of a contract deadline and potential strike on April 13, 2010. (Photo: Michael Whitney)
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Neal McNamara

Neal has spent a decade working as a newspaper reporter, which is one of the worst jobs in America job according to some career websites, but he actually likes it a lot.

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New data from the U.S. Department of Labor out Thursday show that union membership in 2015 in the U.S. was 11.1%, unchanged from 2014.

Union members were more likely to be male, work in education, protective services, training, and at libraries, according to the data. Although union membership did not necessarily increase, union members earned much more than non-union members: a median of $980 per week compared to $776 per week for non-union workers.

New York had the highest level of union members at 24.7%. South Carolina had the lowest at 2.1%. Meanwhile, political efforts to reduce union membership have taken a toll in other states.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that union membership in Wisconsin fell below the national average in 2015 for the first time. The paper attributed the decline to two laws passed by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers: one repealing collective bargaining for public workers and another making Wisconsin a right-to-work state.

Overall, the public sector has a substantially higher rate of union members at 35%, compared to 6.7% in the private sector. Union membership among private-sector workers was highest in the utilities, transportation and warehousing, education, and telecommunications industries.

Since 2005, union membership has increased just slightly. In 2005, there were nearly 13 million union members compared to 14.8 million in 2015. Overall, union membership has declined from 17.7 million in 1983, the first year the government began tracking membership.

Neal McNamara

Neal has spent a decade working as a newspaper reporter, which is one of the worst jobs in America job according to some career websites, but he actually likes it a lot.

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