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Union membership of employed wage and salary workers.

Union membership of employed wage and salary workers, 1985

The number of employed wage and salary workers who were members of unions or employee associations declined from 20.1 to 17.0 million between 1980 and 1985. During the same period, the number of employed wage and salary workers rose from 87.5 to 94.5 million. Thus, the proportion of workers who were union members fell from 23.0 to 18.0 percent over the 5-year period. The number and proportion of workers represented by unions--that is, union members as well as nonmembers covered by collective bargaining agreements--also declined, from 22.5 to 19.4 million or from 25.7 to 20.5 percent of employed wage and salary workers.

Data on union employment were obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPS collected data on workers identified by their membership in unions or by their representation at work by a union, whether or not they were members. It should be noted that the CPS union membership data covered only employed wage and salary workers, not union members who were self-employed, unemployed, retired, laid off, or who, for other reasons, were not wage and salary employees.

Industry. Among the major industry groups, the transportation, communications, and public utilities industry had the highest union membership proportion--37 percent, or 2.1 million members out of 5.7 million workers. Three other major industry groups had union membership proportions greater than the national average of 18.0 percent: the public sector--Federal, State, and local government (35.8 percent); manufacturing (24.8 percent); and construction (22.3 percent). In mining, 17.3 percent of the workers were union members, just below the national average. Among the other industry groups (wholesale and retail trade; services; and finance, insurance, and real estate), union membership rates were no higher than 7.2 percent. (See table 1.)

Union membership was disproportionately concentrated in three major industry groups. The public sector accounted for 33.8 percent of all employed union members; manufacturing for 29.4 percent; and transportation, communications, and public utilities for 12.5 percent. Although these three groups accounted for three-fourths of union membership, they employed only 44 percent of the Nation's wage and salary workers.

Occupation. The two most heavily unionized major occupational groups were operators, fabricators, and laborers, with 31.8 percent membership, and precision production, craft, and repair workers, with 28.5 percent membership. Although membership rates were less than 16 percent among the other occupational groups, two subgroups had comparatively high rates of unionization.

About three-tenths of all union members were in the operators, fabricators, and laborers occupational group. Almost 60 percent were about equally distributed among three other major occupational groups: managerial and professional specialty; precision production, craft, and repair; and technical, sales, and administrative. The service occupations accounted for about one-tenth of the workers who were union members.

Demographic characteristics. While a larger proportion of male workers than of female workers belonged to unions (22.1 versus 13.2 percent), the pattern of change in union membership proportions across age brackets was similar for both sexes. The proportion of workers belonging to unions was smallest for workers age 16 to 24 for both men and women. (See table 1.) As workers' age rose, so did the percentage of those who belonged to unions. The highest unionization rate reported was for workers in the 45- to 64-year old bracket. This relationship held for both men and women.

A higher proportion of black than of white employees belonged to unions, 24.3 and 17.3 percent. This relationship held for both men and women.

Earnings. Full-time unionized workers had substantially higher median usual weekly earnings than those who were not represented by a union. (See table 2.) This relationship held for six of the eight major industry groups (exceptions were mining and finance, insurance, and real estate) and among the occupational groups, except for managerial and professional specialty workers. Similarly, among black and white workers of both sexes, those covered by a collective bargaining agreement had weekly earnings substantially higher than their nonrepresented counterparts.

More detailed data appear in Larry T. Adams, "Union Membership of Employed Wage and Salary Workers,' Current Wage Developments, March 1985, pp. 45-50.

Table: 1. Employed wage and salary workers affiliated with a union, by selected characteristics, 1985 annual average

Table: 2. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers affiliated with a union, by selected characteristics, 1985 annual average
COPYRIGHT 1986 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1986
Previous Article:Work-related deaths in 1984: BLS survey findings.
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