Special Report

States With The Strongest And Weakest Unions

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

45. Virginia
> Workers in a labor union: 4.4% (total: 163,842)
> Change in union membership (2010-2020): -0.2 ppt. (21st highest)
> Avg. annual wage: $56,740 (11th highest)
> Most unionized occupational group: Computer and mathematical occupations

Only 163,842 people, or 4.4% of workers, in Virginia are unionized. Nationwide, union membership is split evenly between the public and private sectors. In Virginia, however, likely due in part to the large government presence in the Washington D.C. metro area, union membership is concentrated in the public sector.

Along with Colorado, Virginia is one of only two states where computer and mathematical occupations have the highest concentration of unionized workers.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

44. Georgia
> Workers in a labor union: 4.7% (total: 194,261)
> Change in union membership (2010-2020): +0.6 ppt. (11th highest)
> Avg. annual wage: $49,620 (25th highest)
> Most unionized occupational group: Transportation and material moving occupations

There are nearly 4.2 million workers in Georgia, more than the vast majority of states. Yet, only 4.7% of them are in an organized labor union. As a result, many states with much smaller workforces than Georgia are home to far more unionized workers. There are over 400 active labor unions in the state, the majority located in and around Atlanta.

Unlike many other so-called right-to-work states with low union membership, unions are gaining power in Georgia. The share of workers in a union increased by over half a percentage point between 2010 and 2020.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

43. Arkansas
> Workers in a labor union: 4.7% (total: 54,306)
> Change in union membership (2010-2020): +0.7 ppt. (10th highest)
> Avg. annual wage: $42,690 (2nd lowest)
> Most unionized occupational group: Production occupations

Just 4.7% of all workers in Arkansas are members of an organized labor union. Though Arkansas is a right-to-work state, local labor unions appear to be growing stronger. As recently as 2010, only 4.0% of the labor force were union members.

Still, the state is one of only nine nationwide where fewer than 5% of the workforce are unionized. With limited union membership, workers in the state are at a disadvantage in contract negotiations, and partially as a result, incomes are generally low. The average annual wage in Arkansas is just $42,690, nearly the lowest of any state.

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42. Texas
> Workers in a labor union: 4.9% (total: 565,634)
> Change in union membership (2010-2020): -0.6 ppt. (25th lowest)
> Avg. annual wage: $50,490 (22nd highest)
> Most unionized occupational group: Construction and extraction occupations

As is the case nationwide, union membership in Texas is declining. Just 4.9% of the workforce in the Lone Star State are members of a labor union, down over half a percentage point from 2010.

Union membership in Texas peaked in 1993, when 7.5% of workers were union members. That same year, Texas became a so-called right-to-work state and membership has been declining since. Though membership has fluctuated slightly in recent years, current membership is near an all time low.

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41. Arizona
> Workers in a labor union: 5.3% (total: 154,524)
> Change in union membership (2010-2020): -1.1 ppt. (22nd lowest)
> Avg. annual wage: $50,930 (20th highest)
> Most unionized occupational group: Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations

Only 5.3% of the 2.9 million people working in Arizona are members of a labor union — the 10th smallest share among states. Though the number of union members in the state employed in the public sector is similar to the number of private sector workers, they account for a much larger share of union members. Nearly one in every five public sector workers in Arizona are union members, compared to only 3% of private workers.

Over the last decade, the share of union members as a percentage of the total Arizona workforce dropped 1.1 percentage points. There are currently only 154,500 union members in the state, compared to 161,000 in 2010.

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