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AFL-CIO

Missouri adds 46,000 New Union Members

20 other states, many Right to Work, also saw increases

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 24, 2020

Across the nation, the percentage of union members is dropping, but in one midwestern state union membership bucked that trend and grew.

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that union membership nationally decreased from 10.5% to 10.3%, the union rate in Missouri actually increased. It went from 9.4% in 2018 to 11.1% in 2019. That represented an increase of 46,000 members last year. It was also the second consecutive year of growth for Missouri unions. The 11.1% represents a 15 year high.

Nationally the picture wasn’t as good. Overall, union membership fell by 170,000 people. While this loss is significant, some of these losses were attributed to older people in union jobs retiring and those jobs not being replaced, rather than union members deciding to leave their union.

“In talking to people about what may be some of the factors that led to a decline in union membership, people point to the fact that population is shrinking in states like New York, “ said James Madore of Newsday on UCOMM Live. A number of the areas where the economy is growing are areas where workers aren’t organized. For example, Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, the Gig Economy is not organized.”

According to Madore, New York lost 140,000 union members in 2019. New York has the second-highest union density behind Hawaii.

In addition to Missouri, 20 other states saw increases in their union membership. Strong union states like California had a .5% increase (54,000 members), Maryland had a .3% increase (27,000 members), New Jersey had a .8% increase (55,000 members), and Oregon had a .5% increase (13,000 members). Surprisingly many Right to Work states also saw increases. The biggest came in the Midwest where there was a 1.7% increase which resulted in 22,000 new union members in Kansas and a 1.8% increase in Nebraska. This resulted in 16,000 new union members in the Cornhusker state.

The full report from the BLS can be found by clicking here.

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