Union membership fell to a record low in 2022, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics

WASHINGTON — Union membership in the US fell to the lowest level since the federal government began collecting such data in 1983, according to a report released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The agency found that the union membership rate fell to 10.1% in 2022, down from 10.3% in 2021. It explained that the drop was attributed to the increase in the total number of salaried workers, most of whom are not belonged to a union, outpacing the increase in the number of workers belonging to one.

Between 2021 and 2022, the number of union members increased by 273,000 people, but during the same period, the number of non-union members increased by around 5.3 million.

“This disproportionately large increase in the total number of wage and salaried jobs compared to the increase in the number of union members led to a decrease in the union membership rate,” the report says.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics began measuring the union membership rate in 1983, when it was 20.1% and there were 17.7 million workers. The rate at which it fell in 2022 was the lowest on record, the agency said Thursday.

The AFL-CIO, which has the most unions, appeared to dismiss the record low and celebrated the latest data because membership grew despite the fact that “major corporations like Amazon and Starbucks stepped up illegal efforts to intimidate, harass and fire to the workers. They are forming unions.

“In 2022, we saw workers rise up despite often illegal opposition from companies that would rather pay millions to anti-union companies than give workers a seat at the table,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, in a statement.

According to 2022 data, the highest union membership rate was among people working in the protection service, in education, training and libraries. The agency also found that the rate was higher among men than women and that black workers were more likely to belong to a union than white, Hispanic or Asian workers.


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