Over the past three decades, the share of wage and salary workers in the United States who belong to labor unions has fallen by about half. The public expresses mixed views of the impact of the long-term decline in union membership on the country: 45% say this has been mostly a bad thing, while 43% see it as mostly a good thing.
However, the effects of the decline in union membership on working people is seen in more negative terms: 52% say the reduction in union representation has been mostly bad for working people, compared with fewer (40%) who say it has been mostly good. The balance of opinion on this question is about the same as it was in a 1994 NBC/Wall Street Journal survey that asked about the previous 20 years.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted March 25-29 among 1,500 adults, finds little recent change in overall favorability of labor unions: 48% hold a favorable view of unions, while somewhat fewer (39%) say they have an unfavorable view. Opinions of unions have recovered from lows reached in 2010 and 2011.
Public views of business corporations have followed a similar trajectory. Currently, 48% have a favorable impression of business corporations, compared with 43% who have an unfavorable opinion.