Private-Sector Unions Still in Their Slow Fade

They’ll have to score “Solidarity Forever”—once an anthem for the masses—as a song for chamber chorus. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows union membership continued its slow decline last year. The percentage of wage/salary workers who belong to unions slid to 12.9 percent from 13.3 percent the year before. In 1983, the figure was 20.1 percent. The rate of union membership among public employees (now 37.2 percent) has held steady during the past 20 years. But the rate of membership among private-sector workers has fallen by about half during that period and now stands at just 8.2 percent. Although male workers are more likely than female workers to be members (14.3 percent vs. 11.4 percent), the gap has narrowed over the years. There are also variations by race and ethnicity, with black workers more likely to be union members (16.5 percent) than whites (12.5 percent), Asians (11.4 percent) and Hispanics (10.7 percent).