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Union Membership and Rust Belt Manufacturing Down: National Manufacturing and Jobs Up

Jan. 24, 2020
Recent reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that employment numbers are healthy, but that union membership and Rust Belt manufacturing jobs are declining.

Union membership among manufacturing workers fell .4 percentage points from 2018 to 2019, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s twice as high as the average loss in union membership for all wage and salary workers across industries, .2 points.

The percentage of all wage and salary workers who were union members in 2019 was 10.3%, down .2 points from 2018. The union membership rate for manufacturing workers, comparatively, was 8.6%, down .4 points from 9% in 2018. In absolute terms, there were 14,861 total employed manufacturing workers in 2018, of which 1,350 were union members. In 2019, there were 15,070 total employed manufacturing workers, of which 1,291 were union members.

Other notable annual findings on 2019 published by the Bureau included that black workers had higher union membership than other races, and men had higher union membership than women. In terms of age, union membership was highest among workers aged 45 to 64.

The data used in the Bureau’s January 22nd analysis was collected as part of the Current Population Survey, a monthly sample survey of 60,000 households concerning the employment status of civilians aged 16 and over.

Meanwhile, on the employment front, a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics January 24th showed that despite strong national employment numbers overall, several Rust Belt states lost manufacturing jobs in December of 2019. Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania were hit the worst, shedding 8,200, 7,500, and 5,700 manufacturing jobs, respectively. Despite that, all three of those states reported a total increase of jobs moving into December.

Michigan, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin also lost manufacturing jobs, although not as much: rust belt states Michigan lost 5,300 manufacturing jobs, and Wisconsin lost 4,100.

States from outside the Rust Belt performed much better. Texas, California, and Arizona added 18,200, 11,400, and 6,600 manufacturing jobs, respectively.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 3 states and was “essentially unchanged” in the rest of the country, the report says. Over the course of the year, 26 states added jobs while the other 24 states and the District of Columbia were mostly unchanged.

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