The union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 10.1 percent in 2022, down from 10.3 percent in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.3 million in 2022, increased by 273,000, or 1.9 percent, from 2021. However, the total number of wage and salary workers grew by 5.3 million (mostly among nonunion workers), or 3.9 percent. This disproportionately large increase in the number of total wage and salary employment compared with the increase in the number of union members led to a decrease in the union membership rate. The 2022 unionization rate (10.1 percent) is the lowest on record. In 1983, the first year where comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
In 2022, 7.1 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, about the same as in the private sector (7.2 million). (See table 3.)
Union membership was little changed over the year (+80,000) in the public sector, after a decline the prior year (-191,000). The public-sector union membership rate continued to decline in 2022; the rate went down by 0.8 percentage point to 33.1 percent. In 2022, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (38.8 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector increased by 193,000 to 7.2 million over the year. The private-sector unionization rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point in 2022 to 6.0 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.6 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.5 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in insurance (1.2 percent), finance (1.3 percent), professional and technical services (1.3 percent), and food services and drinking places (1.4 percent).