The union membership rate nationally continues to decline but in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the number of workers covered by union collective bargaining contracts increased in 2018, according to data released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The bureau reported that the percentage of wage and salary workers represented by unions was 10.5 percent in 2018, down by 0.2 percent. About 14.7 million American workers belonged to unions in 2018, about the same as 2017.
The report also stated that union workers had higher salaries than their non-union counterparts. Nonunion workers had earnings that were 82 percent of what unions workers earn. The non-union workers earned an average of $860 weekly while unionized workers earned $1,051, the report said.
Union membership in public sector workplaces was about 34 percent, about five times higher than the private sector membership of 6.4 percent.
The union rate for all workers in Massachusetts increased from 13.3 percent in 2017 to 14.5 percent in 2018. In Rhode Island, the percentage of union members in the workforce went up from 17.2 percent in 2017 to 18.5 percent in 2018.
Among states, Hawaii and New York had the highest unionization rates, at 23.1 percent and 22.3 percent respectively. North Carolina and South Carolina had the lowest union rate, with each state having just 2.7 percent of workers in unions.