Union Membership Dropped Slightly in 2018

The union membership rate in the U.S. in 2018 dropped 0.2 percent from 2017 after remaining unchanged from 2016 to 2017, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall percent of wage and salary workers who were members of a union was 10.5 percent last year with 14.7 million union workers. The total number of union members has dropped nearly in half since 1983, the first year for which comparable union data is available, when the membership rate was 20.1 percent with 17.7 million union workers.

Membership in unions related to construction also decreased in 2018, with 1,048,000 total union members, or 12.8 percent of the overall wage and salary construction workers. That’s down from 14 percent in 2017 when there were 1,102,000 members of construction unions. However, membership in construction-related unions remains higher than the national rate. The rate of construction workers represented by unions fell from 14.7 percent in 2017 to 13.8 percent in 2018.

The Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers

2017 2018
Union Construction Workers $1,163 $1,220
Non-Union Construction Workers $797 $819
Overall Union Workers $1,041 $1,051
Overall Non-Union Workers $829 $860

The median pay for glaziers, both union and non-union, in 2017 was $42,580 per year, or $818.85 a week.

State Data

Last year, 29 states and Washington, D.C., had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average while 20 states had rates above it and one state had the same rate. Overall union membership grew in 23 states and Washington, D.C., in 2018.

Highest and Lowest Union Membership Rates by State

Hawaii 23.1
New York 22.3
Washington 19.8
Alaska 18.5
Rhode Island 17.4
Virginia 4.3
Texas 4.3
Utah 4.1
North Carolina 2.7
South Carolina 2.7

Characteristics of Union Members

The union membership rate continued to be higher for men (11.1 percent) than for women (9.9 percent) in 2018. That gap has narrowed since 1983 when the rate for men was 24.7 percent compared to 14.6 percent for women.

By age, union membership rates were highest among workers aged 55 to 64 in 2018. Workers aged 25 to 24 and 65 years and over had the lowest rate at 9.3 percent for each group. Union membership fell slightly for each age group in 2018. When looking at age and sex, the only group that saw an increase in overall union membership were men aged 65 years and over. Their rate increased from 9.1 percent in 2017 to 9.5 percent in 2018.

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