Jan 26, 2023 - Business

Ohio's rise in union membership

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Statewide union membership grew last year compared to 2021, per new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: The increase is further evidence of a growing labor movement involving local workers at Ohio institutions and global companies alike.

State of play: The percentage of statewide workers represented by a union rose from 13% in 2021 to 14% last year.

  • That might seem like a modest rise, but it amounts to 52,000 more Ohioans belonging to organizations designed to advance and protect their rights at work.

Zoom in: Columbus' labor movement is "having a moment," we reported in September.

  • While union membership remains higher in government jobs than in the private sector, the region has seen recent organizing efforts at various nonprofits, museums and libraries.
  • KIPP Columbus could become the first local charter school to unionize.

The big picture: This movement bucks a decades-long state and national trend of declining labor union representation, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

  • And our membership still outpaces the national percentage of 10.1% of workers belonging to a union, the lowest figure since the government began tracking membership in the early 1980s.

Context: The U.S. actually added hundreds of thousands of new unionized jobs last year, but the percentage of union members in the overall workforce declined because of the greater number of non-union jobs created.

The intrigue: Despite record-low membership nationally, labor unions are experiencing a surge in popularity.

  • 71% of Americans approved of them in 2022, per a Gallup poll ā€” the highest since 1965.
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