The labor movement has warned for years that declining union membership is hurting workers, but a new report Wednesday found the trend is actually resulting in better wages and job growth.
Union membership has been on the decline for nearly three decades. Leadership within the labor movement has warned the dwindling numbers is cause for alarm because unions help protect workers while supporting economic growth. The American Action Forum, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group, found the decline is actually leading to more economic productivity and job growth.
“The results imply that overall the change in union membership between 2004 and 2013 led to an additional $115.9 billion in economic growth,” the report noted. “The overall decline in union membership between 2004 and 2013 led to an additional 393,189 jobs in the U.S. labor market.”
Labor unions have included wages as a primary example of why workers need their help. They argue that without union protection, employers will undercut what they pay workers. The Fight for $15 movement, for instance, has linked the struggle for higher wages with the right to unionize. The report, however, found that the increase of economic activity has led to an overall growth in wages.
“Our results suggest that the 2004 to 2013 overall decline in union membership nationwide translated to average weekly earnings increasing by $6.08,” the report continued. “With the increase in real GDP, employment, and average weekly earnings, the overall decline in union membership also led to an additional $35.1 billion in total wage earnings from 2004 to 2013.”
Nevertheless unions have managed to garner vast support by arguing that its important for workers to join their ranks. Federal agencies have put forth a series of rules in recent years aimed at increasing their numbers. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has also spoken on numerous occasions in support of unions.
Unions saw their approval rating jumped to 58 percent after nearly a decade decline, according to a Gallup poll last August. Labor unions touted the findings as yet another reason they are still relevant but ignored the fact their membership rates were still on the decline.
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