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The rate of union membership just hit an all-time low

The rate of union membership just hit an all-time low

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The percentage of American workers who are members of a union fell to a new low in 2022 despite the total number of unionized workers increasing.

Driving the news: 10.1% of workers were unionized in 2022, down from 10.3% in 2021 and a high of 20.1% in 1983, the first year the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported comparable figures.

Why it matters: Unions play a powerful role in the workforce, with advocates saying they advance worker rights while critics say they stymie progress.

By the numbers: The workforce added 273,000 unionized jobs in 2022, up 1.9% from 2021.

  • But the number of total jobs increased by 5.3 million, a 3.9% jump, outpacing the growth in union roles.

The big picture: Several high-profile unionization efforts have fetched headlines in recent months, including the ongoing campaign to organize Starbucks locations and Amazon warehouses.

Zoom in: The rate of union membership among public-sector workers is five times greater than the rate of private-sector employees — 33.1% to 6%, according to the BLS.

  • Median weekly compensation for union members was $1,216 in 2022, compared with $1,029 for nonunion workers.

The bottom line: Unions have momentum in the public square, but that hasn’t yet translated into a greater share of the workforce.

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