Trends in Labor Relations: Membership & Industry

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Global Staffing Approaches: Ethnocentric, Regiocentric, Polycentric, and Geocentric

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:06 Unions & Labor Relations
  • 0:46 Private Sector v.…
  • 1:12 Demographics
  • 2:15 Nonunion v. Union Earnings
  • 2:33 By Industry
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Unions represent employees in their relationships with their employers. In this lesson, we'll take a look at current trends in union membership from across economic sectors, industries and demographics. A short quiz follows.

Unions and Labor Relations

A union is an organization of employees who work together as a group to secure better wages, benefits and working conditions for their members. According to a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.3% of workers belonged to a union in 2013, which is about 14.5 million people. The earliest comparable information on union membership is from 1983, where about 20.1% of workers belonged to unions, which amounted to 17.7 million workers. In fact, the level of union membership hasn't been this low since the 1930s.

Private Sector v. Public Sector

Unions have a much stronger presence in the public sector than in the private sector. In 2013, workers in the public sector had a membership rate of 35.3% - that's more than one in three. This rate is five times higher than the membership rate of private sector workers, which is a mere 6.7%. In other words, less than seven private sector employees out of a hundred are members of a union.


Demographically, men are slightly more likely to be union members than women. Black employees are more likely to be members of unions than white, Asian or Hispanic employees at 13.6%. The membership rate for white workers is 11%, while Asian and Hispanic workers are at 9.4%.

There is also a correlation between age and union membership. The highest membership rates were found to be workers between the ages of 45 and 64. About 14.3% of employees in this age group are members of unions. On the other hand, only 9.8% of employees aged 25-34 are members of unions.

Whether an employee is full-time or part-time is also an indication of union membership. About 12.5% of full-time employees are members of unions, but only 6.0% of part-time workers are. You're more than twice as likely to be a member of a union if you are a full-time worker than if you only work part-time.

Nonunion v. Union Earnings

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time workers who were members of a union had median weekly earnings of $950. Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings of only $750. That's quite a significant difference - over 20%.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account