Education Intelligence Agency

Public education research, analysis and investigations

Ten Things You Should Know About Union Membership Numbers

Written By: Mike Antonucci - Jan• 28•13

January 28, 2013

1) Ten Things You Should Know About Union Membership Numbers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership last week and the news was pretty grim. While the economy added almost 2.4 million jobs in 2012, union membership was down by almost 400,000.

Digging through the data led to several more interesting discoveries.

1) Since 2008, private sector unions have lost more than 1.2 million members – almost equivalent to losing the entire rank-and-file of the Teamsters.

2) All of the government jobs lost since 2008 were added in the three-year period 2005-2008.

3) Almost half of all union members work in just seven states – California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio – though these states employ only about one-third of the U.S. workforce.

4) Union membership increased in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, only five added more than 10,000 members (California, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas).

5) Local government (teachers, police officers, firefighters, et al.) is by far the most unionized sector of the American workforce.

6) Members of the two national teachers’ unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, comprise more than 25% of all union members in the United States, and just under half of all public sector union members.

7) About 42% of U.S. workers are 45 years of age or older. Almost 52% of union members are.

8) If unions were able to organize all the workers at Wal-Mart, by far America’s largest employer, it would only raise their share of the private sector workforce to 8.5% – less than the share they had in 2002.

9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.

10) Five million of them will be teachers.

2)  Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from January 23-28:

*  Teacher Glut Is Elementary. Schools of education keep churning out candidates for jobs that don’t exist, while shortages in specialized areas persist.

Indianapolis Star Gives Teacher Union Troubles Front-Page Treatment. Mainstream media corroboration.

Union Membership at 62-Year Low. In actual number of warm bodies.

Evidently Only Money Can Light a Fire. Just the beginning.

3) Quote of the Week. “As we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of CTA, we must remember that we were founded for one reason – and one reason only – and that was to engage in politics. We were founded to engage in the political process in order to create an organized system of public instruction and to elevate the profession of teaching in California.” – Carolyn Doggett, executive director of the California Teachers Association, in a January 27 speech to the union’s State Council.

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  1. [...] such new agreements are an acknowledgement that teachers’ unions are already the bulk of the labor movement and will own an increasing share of total union membership in the coming years. Eventually someone [...]