Business

Half Of All Union Members Live In Just A Handful Of States

Labor unions can be found across the country, but roughly half of all unionized workers live in just seven states, according to a Thursday Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

The annual report looked at how union membership changed from 2014 to 2015, focusing on states, industries and national averages. Overall, the percentage of America’s unionized workers remained unchanged from the previous year at 11.1 percent.

The 2015 report stated nearly half of all union workers live in just seven states, including California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey.

“Roughly half of the 14.8 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states,” the report detailed. “Though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.”

The seven states are already considered fairly union friendly. California, for instance, has a history of union successes, especially in agriculture where prominent union activist Cesar Chavez rose to prominence. The state is currently considering two competing union-backed measures to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 11.1 percent,” the report also noted. “20 states had rates above it.”

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also done a lot to push for the $15 minimum wage in his own state. He introduced a bill Sept. 10 that could gradually bring the state minimum wage to $15 by 2021. He also unilaterally raised wages for those working in the fast-food industry, state university workers and state employees.

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has worked to rein in union power in the past year since taking office. Illinois unions had enjoyed substantial benefits in previous years under Democrat control. While New Jersey unions have enjoyed benefits from the state, but an ongoing pension dispute has put them at odds with Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

“Five states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2015,” the report continued. “Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2015.”

Union approval jumped to 58 percent Aug. 17 after nearly a decade of dismal numbers, according to Gallup. Despite union approval going up, their membership rates have declined. At the moment, 11.1 percent of workers are unionized but when comparable data first became available in 1983, it stood as high as 20.1 percent.

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