Overall union membership increased by 49,000 from 2010 to 2011, including 15,000 new 16- to 24-year-old members, according to new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data out this morning. An increase of 110,000 in the private sector was partially offset by a decline of 61,000 in the public sector, making the rate of union membership essentially unchanged at 11.8 percent, with some 14.8 million U.S. workers union members.
Public-sector density increased from 36.2 percent to 37 percent though November 2011. Private-sector union membership remains at 6.9 percent. The largest increases in union membership were in construction, health care services, retail trade, primary metals and fabricated metal products, hospitals, transportation and warehousing.
Bottom line, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
Despite an unprecedented volley of partisan political attacks on workers’ rights and the continuing insecurity of our economic crisis, union membership increased slightly last year. Working men and women want to come together and to improve their lives.