U.S.A. - Unions Decline in Public Sector

The nation’s union membership held steady at 11.3 percent last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, but losses among state and government workers suggest an ominous trend for the future of organized labor. Although the rate of membership didn’t budge, the overall number of members grew slightly, rising about 162,000 to nearly 14.5 million. Unions added about 282,000 new members in the private sector, but that was partly offset by the loss of 118,000 members in the public sector, where budget pressures have meant layoffs and hiring freezes. In Wisconsin, for instance, where Republican lawmakers have moved to limit union bargaining rights, union membership in the public sector fell to just 37.6 percent in 2013, from 53.4 percent in 2011. New York continued to have the highest union membership rate at 24.4 percent, while North Carolina had the lowest rate at 3 percent.