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Daily Pulse

Who’s in the union?

Karl Baker Jan 27, 2012

The pulse is up today on news that the 30-year precipitous drop in union membership has plateaued.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, 11.8 percent of workers counted themselves amongst the ranks of organized labor in 2011, almost half the number recorded in 1983 — the first year that data was available.

But, here’s what we thought was interesting: that number is “essentially unchanged” from 2010.

The drop in union membership over the past three decades is largely attributed to the loss of manufacturing and, more recently, construction jobs. Also of note, government employees like teachers and police officers are the most heavily unionized workers, recording membership rates over five times higher than those in the private sector.

And finally, following on the legacy of unionized jobs of the past, baby boomers were the most likely age group to belong — indicating, perhaps, that while the overall figure rests on a plateau, a cliff may lie ahead when those near-retirement workers leave their collectively bargained jobs.

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