Jan 20, 2022 - Economy

Labor union membership declined in 2021

Percentage of workers who are unionized, 2021
Note: Unionized workers are members of a labor union or similar employee association; Data: BLS ; Map: Baidi Wang/Axios

The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions declined by nearly 241,000 people in 2021, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data out Thursday.

Why it matters: The union membership rate declined back to 2019 levels in 2021 to 10.3%, from 10.8% in 2020.

By the numbers: The highest unionization rates were among those who work in education, training and library jobs, at 34.6%.

  • Union membership among public-sector workers — 33.9% — continued to be more than five times higher than private-sector workers at 6.1%.
  • Men had a higher union membership rate at 10.6%, compared with women who were at 9.9%.
  • Black workers were also more likely to be unionized compared to white, Asian or Hispanic workers.
  • Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership with 22.4% and 22.2%, respectively.

Yes, but: Unions had showed signs of life in 2020 during the middle of the pandemic, after decades of decline, as non-unionized jobs declined amid economic turmoil.

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