2013 Union Membership Steady at 11.3%

Unions added about 282,000 new members in the private sector as the economy improved. But that was partly offset by the loss of 118,000 members in the public sector.

Jan 24, 2014 at 12:40PM

U.S. union membership for 2013 remained at 11.3%, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report (link opens as PDF) released today.

That puts total dues-paying membership at 14.5 million, nearly unchanged from 2012's number. The majority of members come from the public sector, where rates reached 35.3%. In the private sector, union membership clocked in at just 6.7%.

Within the private sector, utility workers saw a 25.6% union membership rate last year, followed by transportation/warehousing (19.6%) and telecommunications (14.4%). Only 1% of agriculture and finance workers belonged to a union. industries with high unionization rates included utilities (25.6 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.4 percent)...rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.0 percent), finance (1.0 percent)

New York state had the highest union membership (24.4%), while North Carolina's rate reached just 3% for 2013. Men were more likely to be unionized than women, and African-Americans were more likely to hold union memberships than white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.4 percent), and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.0 percent) Men had a higher union membership rate... Black workers were more likely to be union members than white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.

Looking back, the union membership rate stood at 20.1% in 1983, the first year for which membership data were collected. The share of workers belonging to unions peaked in the 1950s at about 30%.In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 

Although the rate of membership among all workers didn't budge in 2013, the overall number of union members grew slightly, rose about 162,000. Unions added about 282,000 new members in the private sector as the economy improved. But that was partly offset by the loss of 118,000 members in the public sector, as state and local governments and public school districts continued to face financial pressure from shrinking budgets.

According to today's report, in 2013, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $950, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $750.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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