Shuffling economic conditions and favorable rule-making in Washington helped union membership rise in 2011 by 49,000 people, up to 14.8 million workers, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An increase of 110,000 unionized employees in the private sector was offset by a decrease of 61,000 unionized employees in the public sector. Still, public-sector workers have a union membership rate of 37%, more than five times that of the private sector (6.9%).
More than half of America’s 14.8 million union members live in just seven states: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio. Three states have union membership rates above 20% (New York, Alaska and Hawaii), while seven states have membership rates below 5%: North Carolina (2.9%), South Carolina (3.4%), Georgia (3.9%), Arkansas (4.2%) Louisiana (4.5%), Tennessee (4.6%) and Virginia (4.6%).