Jan 30, 2024 - News

Why Ohio's union membership declined in 2023

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Values are not seasonally adjusted; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Note: Values are not seasonally adjusted; Chart: Axios Visuals

The ratio of Ohio workers who are members of a union declined in 2023, but still remains above the national rate.

Why it matters: Advocates say unions are a needed proponent of worker rights and compensation, while critics say unions throttle progress in the workplace, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

By the numbers: 12.5% of Ohio workers were in a union last year, down slightly from 12.8% in 2022.

  • The total number of unionized workers remained unchanged (at around 641,000), but the workforce grew by a few hundred thousand Ohioans in that time.
  • An additional 50,000 workers are not union members, but their jobs are covered by a labor association contract.

The big picture: The share of American workers in a union hit a new low in 2023, to just one in 10 ā€” down significantly from 20.1% in 1983, the first year of data reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • A far greater percentage of public workers (32.5%) are in a union compared to private-sector workers (6%).
  • Union members earned a median income of $1,263 per week compared to $1,090 for non-union workers.

Between the lines: Ohio's shifting jobs landscape has contributed to the decline in union workers.

  • The state lost nearly 340,000 manufacturing jobs ā€” which tend to be heavily unionized ā€” between 2000-2022, per federal data compiled by the left-leaning think tank Policy Matters Ohio.
  • Ohio lost tens of thousands more jobs in the utilities, construction and government sectors, which also historically have had significant levels of union membership.

Yes, but: The state gained approximately 200,000 jobs in education and health services during that period, both of which have seen new unionization campaigns of late.

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