Jan 26, 2024 - News

Utah's union membership rates among nation's lowest

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

Utah has one of the lowest rates of unionization in the United States.

Driving the news: About 4.1% of employed Utahns belonged to a union in 2023, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • That's the fourth lowest of any state, below only the Carolinas and South Dakota.

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

Catch up quick: Utah's union rates have risen from their nadir of 3.5% in 2021.

  • Yes, but: That hasn't made up for the drops since 2000, when 7.4% of workers in the state were union members.

Flashback: A century or so ago, Utah was a flashpoint for the U.S. labor movement, with rail workers and miners rallying around world-famous organizers.

Zoom out: Nationally, 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.

Context: The slight drop in the union membership rate came during a year of significant action for Big Labor, including:

Of note: The decrease in the union membership rate also came despite the approval of unions in 2022 reaching its highest point since 1965, according to Gallup.

ICYMI: We recounted some of Utah's spicy union history around Labor Day.

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