Trade Unions

Union Membership at Four Decade Low in the U.S.

Union membership rates in the U.S. have steadily declined over the past four decades. The latest data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last week shows that 10.0% of the U.S. workforce were members of unions in 2023, almost unchanged from 2022 (10.1%) but significantly down from the 20.1% who were members in 1983, when the data series began.

A union membership rate of 10% equals 14.4 million workers who are members of unions. In absolute numbers, this is 3.3 million less than in 1983, when membership stood at 17.7 million workers. The 2023 data also shows:

  • Public sector has the highest unionization rate at 32.5%, compared to 6.0% in the private sector.
  • The highest union memberships are in education, training, and library occupations (32.7%) and protective service occupations (31.9%). The lowest are in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.2%) and sales related occupations (2.9%).
  • By state, Hawaii leads with a 24.1% unionization rate, and South Carolina has the lowest at 2.3%.

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