Union membership surged in the United States in the wake of the Great Depression and WWII. Organized labor peaked in the mid-1950s, when 35% of the workforce belonged to a labor union. Since then, union membership has declined and the power of organized labor has weakened considerably. Today, only 10.7% of U.S. workers are unionized.
While labor union participation has been declining for decades, the decline has been especially dramatic in some parts of the country in the last 10 years. Cities like Detroit, Michigan and Youngstown, Ohio are nowhere near the strongholds of organized labor they once were.
In many of these cities, the decline of once dominant industries partially explains reduced union membership. In other areas, state laws that discourage collective bargaining have led to less participation in organized labor.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed 10-year changes in union membership to identify the cities where unions are disappearing. Of the 200 metropolitan areas reviewed, 15 cities reported a more than 7.5 percentage point decline in union participation between 2006 and 2016. For reference, 10.7% of the U.S. workforce is part of a union today, compared to 12% in 2006.
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