2015 Union Membership Rate Relatively Stable Despite New NLRB Election Rules
Despite the National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie election rules,” the percentage of unionized workers in the private sector remained stable during 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor: 6.7% of private-sector workers were in unions in 2015, up from 6.6% in 2014. Not surprisingly, public-sector workers had a much higher union membership rate: 35.2%.
According to the report, men had a higher union membership rate than women: 11.5% versus 10.6%. In addition, the percentage of African-American workers who were union members was greater than Caucasian workers.
New York (24.6%), Alaska (22.8%), and Hawaii (21.8%) had the highest unionization rates, whereas South Carolina (2.2%), Mississippi (3.7%), and Utah (3.7%) had the lowest.
The report found the median weekly earnings of nonunion workers were lower than the median weekly earnings for unionized workers ($776 per week versus $980 per week). The report, however, recognizes that this comparison may not be valid because the “comparisons of earnings in [the] release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.” Indeed, this is likely the case.
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