Work stoppages from labor disputes rose to a two-decade high in 2019
3.24 million work days were lost to labor strikes and lockouts in 2019, the most since 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why it matters: Labor disputes can cost workers and businesses in missed wages, decreased productivity and stunted revenues.
By the numbers: There were 25 labor disputes involving more than 1,000 workers last year, the most since 2001.
- 425,500 workers joined work stoppages, with 270,000 in the educational services industry alone.
Between the lines: Labor disputes may increase when the job market tightens, giving workers more leverage in negotiations for higher wages or expanded benefits, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- The unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low in 2019, but wages only increased by 2.9% — the lowest level in a year and a half and well below the 2018 average of 3.3%, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.
- United Auto Workers' 40-day General Motors strike was the largest dispute, totaling 1.33 million days of lost labor and involving 46,000 workers.
- GM reported a profit hit of 8.7% in Q3 of 2019 as a result of the stoppage.
The big picture: Labor union membership fell by 0.2% in 2019, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.
- Only 10.3% (14.6 million) of wage and salary workers said they were union members, and around half of the members lived in just seven states — California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington.
Go deeper: Unions shrink fast in swing states