Unionization rate dropped to new low in 2023
Why it matters: Advocates say unions are a needed proponent of worker rights and compensation, while critics say unions throttle progress in the workplace.
Driving the news: 10% of the workforce was part of a union in 2023, down from 10.1% in 2022 and a high of 20.1% in 1983, the first year the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported comparable figures.
- 14.4 million workers were union members in 2023, up from 14.3 million in 2022 — but the percentage fell because the workforce grew at a faster rate than union membership.
The big picture: The slight drop in the union membership rate came during a year of significant action for Big Labor, including:
- The UAW scoring record contracts from the General Motors, Ford and Stellantis after an unprecedented strike.
- The Teamsters winning concessions from UPS without a strike.
- Actors and writers unions getting new deals from Hollywood after bruising work stoppages.
Context: The drop also came despite approval of unions in 2022 reaching its highest point since 1965, according to Gallup.
Zoom in: 32.5% of public-sector workers were members of unions in 2023, compared with 6% of private workers.
- Men were more likely to be members of a union than women, and Black workers were more likely to be members of a union than white, Asian or Hispanic workers.