Union blues

Stats on the declining number of American union workers

Employee unions have been in the local news lately: There’s been a picket by Enloe Medical Center nurses (see page 11), a protest by firefighters over the temporary closure of Fire Station 5, and an accusation by the Chico Police Officers Association that the city has shorted officers of overtime pay. While unions may seem as robust as ever, the fact is membership has dropped over the past 30 years. Last year, 11.9 percent of America’s workers, or about 14.8 million, were union. In 1983, the first year such statistics were gathered, 17.7 million or 20 percent of America’s workers were union. Here are some other interesting stats:

• Median weekly earnings: Union, $938; Non-union, $729.

• Union membership by state: Lowest: South Carolina (3.4 percent), Georgia (3.9 percent), Arkansas (4.2 percent). Highest: New York (24.1 percent), Alaska (22.1 percent), and Hawaii (21.5 percent).

• The largest numbers of union members live in California (2.4 million) and New York (1.9 million). Texas has about one-fourth as many union members as New York, despite having 2.3 million more wage and salary employees.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics