Special Report

This is How Strong Labor Unions Are in Utah

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Labor unions — an organized group of workers in a given trade — have changed the nature of labor relations in the United States. Through collective bargaining, unions have fought to earn many workers’ rights that many of us take for granted, including weekends off, a 40-hour work week, and paid vacations.

As the global economy has become increasingly interconnected, however, foreign competition has resulted in weakening union power in much of the country. Traditional union demands for better working conditions, benefits, and pay have made it more difficult for American companies to compete in an international market, where labor is cheap. This has been especially true for the manufacturing sector — American automakers in particular. Here are five countries manufacturing more cars than America.

With plants closing amid global competition and companies demanding more leeway, the share of U.S. workers who were union members has been on the decline since the 1980s. Union membership rate nationwide declined by 1.1 percentage points in the last decade, from 11.9% in 2010 to 10.8% in 2020.

Union participation is anything but uniform across all states, and in some parts of the country membership remains at levels not seen nationally since the 1980s. Using state-level data on the share of workforces that belong to a labor union, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the strongest and weakest unions.

Generally, the states with where labor union participation is weakest, are those that have strong anti-union laws. Perhaps the most common and effective anti-union measures are so-called “right-to-work” laws, which prohibit companies from requiring employees to join a union or pay dues. The term “right-to-work” itself is misleading, as in no way do these laws guarantee employment for those seeking it. Instead, they erode the strength of unions, diminishing their collective bargaining power.

As recently as 2010, 6.5% of all workers in Utah were union members. As of 2020, that share dropped to just 3.6%. The 10-year decline in union membership is one of the largest of any state.

Jobs in construction and extraction have the highest concentration of unionized workers in the state. Major labor unions in Utah include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Utah Education Association.

Union membership statistics are from UnionStats, a database powered by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. Additional data on historical union membership and union membership by sector also came from UnionStats. Supplemental data on annual median wage came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Statistics program and is for 2019.

RankGeography:Workers in a labor union:10-yr. change in union membership (ppt.):Avg. annual wage:
 United States10.8%-1.1$53,490
1 Hawaii23.6%1.9$54,930
2 New York22.0%-2.2$63,970
3 Rhode Island17.8%1.4$57,220
4 Alaska17.6%-5.3$59,290
5 Washington17.4%-2.1$62,020
6 Connecticut17.1%0.4$62,350
7 Oregon16.2%0.0$53,890
8 California16.2%-1.3$61,290
9 New Jersey16.1%-1.0$59,980
10 Minnesota15.8%0.2$55,890
11 Michigan15.2%-1.3$50,780
12 Maine14.6%3.0$48,470
13 Illinois14.2%-1.3$55,130
14 Pennsylvania13.5%-1.2$51,340
15 Nevada13.4%-1.6$47,210
16 Ohio13.2%-0.5$49,430
17 Maryland13.1%1.5$60,230
18 Montana12.0%-0.7$45,370
19 Massachusetts12.0%-2.5$65,680
20 Vermont11.8%0.0$51,120
21 West Virginia10.6%-4.1$43,420
22 Delaware9.9%-1.5$54,370
23 New Hampshire9.8%-0.4$53,950
24 Nebraska9.6%0.3$48,250
25 Missouri9.4%-0.5$47,820
26 Kansas8.8%2.0$46,520
27 Wisconsin8.7%-5.4$48,850
28 Indiana8.2%-2.7$46,770
29 Alabama8.0%-2.2$44,930
30 Wyoming7.6%0.2$49,760
31 Kentucky7.5%-1.5$44,020
32 Colorado7.4%0.8$57,690
33 Mississippi7.2%2.7$40,090
34 New Mexico7.2%-0.2$47,040
35 Iowa6.6%-4.8$47,330
36 Florida6.4%0.9$47,750
37 North Dakota6.2%-1.1$50,430
38 Oklahoma6.0%0.5$45,620
39 Louisiana5.9%1.5$44,170
40 Idaho5.6%-1.5$44,890
41 Arizona5.3%-1.1$50,930
42 Texas4.9%-0.6$50,490
43 Arkansas4.7%0.7$42,690
44 Georgia4.7%0.6$49,620
45 Virginia4.4%-0.2$56,740
46 Tennessee4.3%-0.3$45,650
47 South Dakota4.3%-1.3$42,920
48 Utah3.6%-2.9$49,420
49 North Carolina3.1%0.0$48,550
50 South Carolina2.9%-1.7$44,380

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