The power of unions has sharply declined, with its share of the workforce falling to its lowest point in 97 years, the New York Times reports. Union membership only accounts for 11.3% of the workforce in 2012, a drop from 11.8% the year before. Unionization registered a lower percentage only in 1916 (11.2%).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded that the total number of union members declined by 400,000 in 2012, to reach 14.3 million, despite U.S. overall employment numbers increasing by 2.4 million.
Labor analysts point to a few factors for the decrease, including new labor laws in Indiana and Wisconsin, increased jobs in non-union segments like restaurants and retail, and manufacture growth in nonunion states.
“These numbers are very discouraging for labor unions,” said Gary N. Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “It’s a time for unions to stop being clever about excuses for why membership is declining, and it’s time to figure out how to devise appeals to the workers out there.”
Private sector union memberships dropped further to 6.6% of the workforce, down sharply from its high of about 35% during the mid-20th century. The report also highlights areas that had a declining union presence where union membership had strong ties in the past: manufacturing and local government. Public sector union memberships decreased to 35.9% last year, down from 37% in 2011. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)