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Thursday, February 20, 2020

North Carolina has second-lowest union membership rate in U.S.

Business

By John Breslin | Feb 14, 2020

Union

North Carolina has the lowest percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. with the exception of one state, neighboring South Carolina, according to the latest figures released by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

In 2019, the percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of unions – the union membership rate – was 10.3 percent, down by 0.2 percent from 2018, the BLS reports.

"Between their ongoing decline in numbers, corruption scandals and changes by the National Labor Relations Board that generally are viewed as favorable to employers, the 2020s may not be a decade that unions in America are heading into with high hopes," an article in the National Law Review stated following the publication of the figures.

The BLS revealed that South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest rates of union membership, at 2.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The highest rates are in Hawaii and New York at 23.5 percent and 21 percent, respectively. 

Non-union workers earned about 80 percent of those who are union members, $892 versus $1,095, according to the BLS. Also according to the BLS, the number of wage and salary workers was 14.6 million in 2019, similar to the previous year.

Public-sector employees had a union rate of 33.6 percent, compared to 6.2 percent among private-sector employees. Public safety workers and those in education-related employment both had rates greater than a third. More men than women,10.8 percent to 9.7 percent, respectively, were members of unions, though the gap is closing.

According to the BLS, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union in 2019, compared with 7.5 million workers in the private sector. Total membership rate in the private sector dropped to 6.2 percent. The unionization rate for public-sector workers was little changed over the year at 33.6 percent, the BLS stated.

"Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest in local government (39.4 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations such as  police officers, firefighters and teachers," the report, published Jan. 22, reveals. "Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included utilities (23.4 percent), transportation and warehousing (16.1 percent), and telecommunications (14.1 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.1 percent), insurance (1.4 percent), professional and technical services (1.4 percent) and food services and drinking places (1.4 percent)."

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