The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 25, 2010
Report: California union membership down in 2009

California saw a drop in the percentage of wage and salary workers who belonged to a union in 2009, according to figures released on Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The union membership rate nationally fell just one-tenth of a percentage point, from 12.4 in 2008 to 12.3 percent last year. California's union membership dropped from 18.4 percent two years ago to 17.2 percent in 2009.

Click the following link for highlights from the bureau's report and links to the data.

A BLS press release highlighted these facts:

More public sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private sector employees (7.4 million), despite there being 5 times more wage and salary workers in the private sector.

Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.1 percent.

Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers.

Among states, New York had the highest union membership rate (25.2 percent) and North Carolina had the lowest rate (3.1 percent).

California ranked 10th on the national list, just below Connecticut (17.3 percent) and ahead of Oregon (17 percent).

Interesting note: Although the national percentage of employees who are union members nationally remained essentially flat, the percentages increased in 22 states.

Click here for the bureau's press release.

Want more? Click these links for detailed tables:

Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by selected characteristics.

Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation and selected characteristics
Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation, occupation, and industry
Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state
Access to historical data BLS union membership data

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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