The union membership rate: the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union: was 11.3% in 2012, down from 11.8% in 2011, reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.4 million, also declined over the year. 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.
The data on union membership were collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment. Other highlights:
- Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.9%) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 %).
- Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rates, at 35.4 and 34.8%, respectively.
- Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.
- Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate(23.2%), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (2.9%).