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Union Membership Rate Hits Historic Low

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently issued a report on union membership, which found that overall union membership rates have declined to “the lowest on record.” BLS is an agency operating within the Department of Labor (DOL), which is headed by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The agency releases this report annually.

In 2022, the union membership rate dropped to 10.1% to a total of 14.3 total million members among wage and salary workers. Compare this statistic to the first year of comparable data collection, when in 1983, the rate was 20.1% and there were 17.7 million members.

Union membership numbers grew slightly at 1.9%, or 273,000 added members, in 2022. Yet the slight increase in union membership numbers did not offset the large increase in nonunion workers, which led to a decrease in overall union membership rates among wage and salary workers.

The report included other key findings, including:

  • 33.1% of public-sector workers are unionized compared to just 6% of private-sector workers.
  • Workers in protective services (i.e. law enforcement and corrections) had the highest unionization rate at 34%.
  • Non-union workers had slightly lower median weekly earnings than their union counterparts ($1,029 compared to union workers’ $1,216).
  • Both Hawaii and New York are the top-two states of union membership rates (21.9% and 20.7%, respectively).

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.