Friday, January 22, 2010

Public v. Private-Sector Union Membership: Three Times More Union Members Work in the Post Office than Auto Industry

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual Union Members Summary for 2009 earlier today.  The data this year provides some interesting insights.  Here are some brief takeaways:

Nearly 88% of ALL workers in the U.S. are union free.  Unsurprisingly, union membership fell in 2009 from 12.4 percent in 2008 to 12.3 percent in 2009.  This, of course is largely due to the recession, as unions overall lost 771,000 members.

Nearly 93% of the private-sector is union free.  In the private sector, unions lost an astounding (but not unexpected) 858,000 members [see table here].   This means that union membership in the private sector is at a near all-time low of 7.2 percent (down from 7.6).

The Wall Street Journal notes that private-sector membership dropped ten percent.
The broader drop in U.S. employment and a small gain by public-sector unions helped keep the total share of union membership flat at 12.3% in 2009.

The report caps a week of bad news for organized labor, as Democrats lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, dashing union hopes for passing legislation to ease union-organizing rules, and putting the union-backed health-care bill into question.

On the other hand, union membership in the public sector has risen yet again and, for the first time ever, the number of union members in the public has surpassed the number of members in the private sector.

Detailing what this means, the Heritage Foundation has a tremendous post up today.  Here's a couple of excerpts:

New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that a majority of American union members now work for the government. The pattern of unions adding members in government while losing members in the private sector accelerated during the recession. The typical union member now works in the Post Office, not on the assembly line.

Representing government employees has changed the union movement's priorities: Unions now campaign for higher taxes on Americans to fund more government spending....

52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008. A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry.

Read the rest here.

"I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes." Thomas Paine December 23, 1776

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