Press Release

Union Membership Grew by 139,000 in 2023, Thanks to Worker Wins

Today the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on union density. The report shows that union membership grew by 139,000  in 2023. Union membership in the private sector increased by 191,000 members, with a majority of new members under the age of 45. These numbers are a result of how more than 900,000 union members won double-digit wage increases through new contracts last year. AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler released the following statement in response to the report:

Workers are fed up with low wages, few benefits, and a lack of dignity and respect on the job, which is precisely why more are interested in joining a union now than ever before. Although union density remained flat in 2023, that doesn’t reflect the surging momentum that working people have carried into this year. Waves of workers across industries and geography are joining unions despite vicious union-busting campaigns by large corporations. 

Polling data shows that 71% of Americans support unions, the highest level in nearly 60 years, with 88% of young people showing support for unions. And as the BLS numbers show, the union difference in wages remains strong, driving increased interest among workers to have a voice on the job. 

Every worker who wants to join a union should be able to without facing intimidation and harassment from their employer. Corporations spend more than $400 million per year on union-busting consultants to stop worker organizing, and corporate leaders like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos—themselves hoarding billions of dollars—have made it their mission in life to stop their own employees from having a voice at the workplace. 

The labor movement is more focused and committed than ever on ensuring that every worker who wants a union has a fair shot at joining one. Organizing is happening at a rate not seen in generations, and new federal investments by the Biden administration in emerging sectors of the economy creates more opportunity for workers to attain good union jobs. The AFL-CIO’s Center for Transformational Organizing has become a hub for multiunion organizing strategy and investment in the clean energy and technology sectors as new jobs emerge over the next several years catalyzed by these federal funds. Working people are on the rise, and the progress we’re seeing now is just the beginning. 

Contact: Liz Vlock, 202-637-5018