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Monday, January 29, 2007

 
The Incredible Shrinking Unions

This week's EIA Communiqué has the scoop:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics completed its annual task of quantifying the decline of the labor movement. There were actually 326,000 fewer union members nationwide in 2006 than in 2005, despite an increase of 2,348,000 working Americans.

According to BLS, there are fewer than 15.4 million union members, or 12.0 percent of the U.S. workforce. Union membership among private sector employees dropped to 7.4 percent, which the New York Times reports is the lowest percentage since the early 1900s. It bears noting, however, that BLS does not count the self-employed in these statistics, and virtually all of these must be non-union.

The Small Business Administration estimates there were 19.8 million self-employed individuals with no employees in 2005, although about 30 percent of these are "moonlighters," holding a second job in which they would be counted in the BLS statistics. Even so, that would add nearly 14 million more non-union working Americans to the total labor force, reducing the union private sector saturation rate to below 6.6 percent.

There are now 8 million private sector union members and 7.4 million public sector union members. At the current rate, there will be more government union members than private sector union members before the end of the decade.

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