Union Membership: Good News, Bad News
Good News: Union membership as a percent of all U.S. workers is close to an all-time low of 12.3% in 2009, down slightly from 12.4% in 2008, but higher than the 12% share in 2006 and 12.1% share in 2007 (see chart above). In the early 1950s, almost one of three American workers belonged to a union, compared to only about one of eight workers today who are union members.
Bad News: There are now more public sector union members than private sector union members, for the first time ever (see chart below). Public sector union membership has increased in six out of the last nine years, and is higher today by 781,000 government employees compared to 2000. Over the same period, private sector union membership has declined by 1,788,000 workers, bringing down the overall share of union members since 2000. But the 11% increase in public sector union members since 2000 and the upward trend over the last decade is a cause for serious concern.