WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows union membership continues to decline nationwide, with Illinois experiencing a particularly sharp decline.
The agency estimates based on survey data thatthe percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of a union in 2012 was 11.3%, down from 11.8% in 2011, That's nearly half the rate of union membership 30 years ago. The public sector also accounts for a far higher rate of union representation, making up 35.9% of all public sector workers, than the private sector, of which only 6.6% of workers are unionized.
The survey also found that about half of the 14.4 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 1.8 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each).
Illinois did see the most significant drop in unionized workers in 2012 despite an improving employment picture overall. The Department of Labor statistics puts the state's unionized workforce at 801,000 workers in 2012, down from 876,000 in 2011, a nearly 10% drop in a single year and by far the largest decrease of any state. As a result, the percentage of unionized workers dropped from 16.2% to 14.6%.
Wisconsin also saw a significant drop in unionized labor according to the report, dropping from 339,000 to 293,000 unionized workers in a single year.
The largest gainer in unionized workers was California, which rose to 2,489,000 workers who were members of unions in 2012 from 2,379,000 the year before.You can see the full report here: