Labor union representation ebbs

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In most occupations, the nation’s union-represented workers earn more than those who are not represented. However, union-represented jobs have declined both nationally and in Oregon. The share of the state’s wage and salary workers covered by a union contract fell from 26% in 1983 to 15% in 2006. Over the 23-year period, union-represented jobs declined 14% from 262,000 to 225,000. Yet the share of the Beaver State’s wage and salary workers represented by unions ranked 18th highest of all states in 2006, lower than rankings in Washington and California, but slightly higher than the nation overall. Unions represent only 8% of private-sector employees nationally, but 40% of government employees. This shows up in the concentration of union workers by occupation. Education, training, library and protective-service employees are most likely to be represented by unions.

— Art Ayre, state employment economist
WorkSource Oregon Employment Department


Workers represented by unions, U.S. and selected states

Rank of
Area 1983 2006 1983-2006
percent change
2006 Share of
all workers*
U.S. 20,532,100 16,860,000 -18% 13%
1 Hawaii 124,900 146,000 17% 26%
3 Alaska 49,200 67,000 36% 24%
5 Washington 499,700 583,000 17% 21%
8 Nevada 106,700 191,000 79% 17%
9 California 2,505,200 2,444,000 -2% 17%
18 Oregon 261,900 225,000 -14% 15%
40 Idaho 53,700 45,000 -16% 7%
* Limited to wage and salary workers; omits self-employed. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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