The labor shortage is one of the glazing industry’s biggest challenges. A recent report on union membership rates by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that total U.S. union membership, as well as construction union membership, which includes glaziers, has remained stagnant from 2016 to 2017.

The union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions–was unchanged at 10.7 percent in 2017. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2017, edged up by just 262,000 from 2016.

In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.

Construction union membership grew slightly from 13.9 percent in 2016 to 14 percent in 2017. Approximately 1,102,000 people were part of a construction union.

In 2007, industry union membership was 13.9 percent. There was a spike to 15.6 percent in 2008 and a dip to 13.1 percent in 2010.

Earnings

Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,041 in 2017, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $829. In construction unions, the average weekly earnings were $1,163, compared to $822 for non-union workers. That is a small decrease from $1,168 in 2016. Since 2007, when construction union members earned an average of $1,000 a week, wages have generally risen year-over-year.

In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, this earnings difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size or geographic region.

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

In 2017, the union membership rate continued to be higher for men (11.4 percent) than for women (10.0 percent); over the year, the rate for men edged up, and the rate for women edged down. However, the gap between their rates has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.

By age, union membership rates continued to be highest among workers ages 45 to 64.

In 2017, 13.2 percent of workers ages 45 to 54 and 13.5 percent of those ages 55 to

64 were union members.

In 2017, the union membership rate for full-time workers was about twice the rate for part-time workers (11.8 percent versus 5.7 percent).

The data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian non-institutional population age 16 and over.