Jan 24, 2024 - News

Charted: Virginia's union membership grows

A graph of the "share of Virginia workers who are union members" from 2000 to 2023 which shows the decline of the U.S. overall compared to Virginia's slow rise.

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

The share of Virginia workers who are members of a union rose last year, to 4.3% of all workers in the state, up from 3.7% in 2022.

  • That translates into a total of 176,000 unionized Virginia workers, or 30,000 more workers who were members of a union in Virginia in 2023 over the previous year.

Why it matters: As one of the original states to pass a "right to work" law — a statute advocates say is anti-union — in the 1940s, Virginia has historically had low union participation rates.

  • And Virginia's union growth last year bucks the national trend.

The big picture: The share of American workers who are members of a union hit a new low in 2023 — it's now 1 in 10 — though the total number of unionized employees rose slightly, Axios' Nathan Bomey reports.

  • 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.

Of note: The drop in national union participation came despite approval of unions in 2022 reaching its highest point since 1965, according to Gallup.

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