The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report on union membership, derived from U.S. census data, found that 14.6 million Americans are union members.
In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1%, and there were 17.7 million union workers.
Union members generally earn more than nonunion workers, according to Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez. “The 2014 BLS data show that among wage and salary workers, those in a union have median weekly earnings of $970, compared to $763 for those not in a union,” he said. “That’s not pocket change—it amounts to greater than $10,000 a year more for union members.”
Continuing a pattern that goes back decades, government employees have a union membership rate (35.7%) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6%). Teachers, firefighters and police officers are among those most likely to belong to a union.
In the private sector, industries with high unionization rates included utilities (22.3%), transportation and warehousing (19.6%), telecommunications (14.8%) and construction (13.9%).
New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.6%), while North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9%).
Over half of union members live in just seven states: California (2.5 million) New York (2 million), Illinois (800,000), Pennsylvania (700,000) and Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio, with 600,000 each.