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The States With The Strongest and Weakest Unions

The Ten States With The Strongest Unions

10. Oregon
> Workers in Unions: 16.2%
> Unions Workers: 245,101 (17th most)
> Change in Union Membership, 2000 – 2010: 0.6%
> Government Workers: 251,834 (23rd least)
> Total Number of Workers: 1,515,070 (23rd least)

Oregon has the tenth-highest rate of union membership thanks in large part to union growth in the state over the past decade. The state underwent the 14th-greatest increase in overall union membership among all states between 2000 and 2010 with 4.6% growth.  Union membership in the public sector grew by 15.9% to a total of 51.7% in 2010, while membership for the private sector dropped 5.9% to 9.1%.

9. Rhode Island
> Workers in Unions: 16.4%
> Unions Workers: 74,854 (15th least)
> Change in Union Membership, 2000 – 2010: -9.9%
> Government Workers: 66,171 (5th least)
> Total Number of Workers: 455,608 (8th least)

Rhode Island has one of the smallest working populations in the country – less than a half million workers in total. The percentage of the state’s laborers in unions, however, is one of the largest. Unions are especially represented in the public sector. Nearly 64% of Rhode Island’s 66,000 public workers are members of labor organizations, the third-greatest percentage in the U.S.

Click Image to See Larger Chart of Private Sector Workers in Unions

Union Membership, Coverage, Density and Employment by State (2010)

8. Michigan
> Workers in Unions: 16.5%
> Unions Workers: 627,272 (7th most)
> Change in Union Membership, 2000 – 2010: -20.7%
> Government Workers: 541,558 (13th most)
> Total Number of Workers: 3,805,863 (8th most)

Michigan has such a relatively high percentage of workers in unions because of workers in the public sector, 48.9% of which are in unions, the 15th highest amount in the country.  It is primarily due to the 11.1% membership of private workers, however, the 5th highest rate.  The auto industry and its unions are the biggest contributor.  In 2000, 15.7% of the state’s private workforce were union members — the absolute highest amount in the U.S. Since then, the percentage of members in the private sector has dropped 41.2%

7. Connecticut
> Workers in Unions: 16.7%
> Unions Workers: 140,378 (16th most)
> Change in Union Membership, 2000 – 2010: 2.5%
> Government Workers: 230,602 (20th least)
> Total Number of Workers: 1,548,906 (24th least)

Like Rhode island, Connecticut’s strong union representation comes from the public sector. Despite having only the 31st-greatest amount of employees overall, the state has 148,000 public union workers, the fifteenth-highest rate in the country. These 148,000 workers account for nearly 65% of all of Connecticut government jobs. This percentage is the second-highest in the country, behind only New York. Democratic Governor Daniel Malloy recently indicated that he would be demanding $2 billion in union concessions over the next two years.

6. New Jersey
> Workers in Unions: 17.1%
> Unions Workers: 636,940 (6th most)
> Change in Union Membership, 2000 – 2010: -17.8%
> Government Workers: 604,347 (12th most)
> Total Number of Workers: 3,733,761 (10th most)

New Jersey is a major “union state,” with the sixth-greatest amount of union members in the workforce and the sixth-greatest percentage of union workers in the workforce.  The state ranks fifth-highest for percentage of union membership for public workers, with 59% of workers involved.  New Jersey also ranks ninth for percentage of union membership for private workers, with 9% of workers.  The state has lost 16.4% of its union members since 2000, however.  This is the 17th greatest decrease in the country.

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