Thursday, February 11, 2016

Union membership declines in Georgia in 2015

Georgia lost 8,000 union members in 2015, even as the state gained wage and salary workers, according to data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2015, the number of wage and salary workers in Georgia grew from 3,926,000 to 4,016,000 while union membership dropped from 170,000 to 162,000. As a result, the percentage of union members in Georgia’s workforce fell from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 4.0 percent in 2015.

Percentage of wage and salary workers in Georgia 
belonging to unions, 2000 to 2015
Georgia recorded the fourth lowest union membership percentage among the 50 states in 2015.

States with the lowest percentage of
wage and salary workers belonging to unions in 2015

2014
2015
South Carolina
2.2
2.1
North Carolina
1.9
3.0
Utah
3.7
3.9
Georgia
4.3
4.0
Texas
4.8
4.5

In 2000, the union membership rate in Georgia was 6.5 percent, and there were 237,000 union members.

For the nation, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2015, was little different from 2014. In 2000, the union membership rate was 13.4 percent, and there were 16.3 million union workers.

Looking at nearby states, both Alabama and South Carolina posted declines in the percentage of union members. Alabama’s percentage of union members shrank from 10.8 in 2014 to 10.2 in 2015. South Carolina’s percentage fell slightly from 2.2 to 2.1 percent.

The story was different in Florida where, in contrast to Georgia, the percentage of wage and salary workers belonging to unions in Florida grew by 91,000 over the year even while total wage and salary employment decreased by 48,000. As a result, the percentage of union members rose from 5.7 percent in 2014 to 6.8 percent in 2015.

Data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. There is about a 90-percent chance, or level of confidence, that an estimate based on a sample will differ by no more than 1.6 standard errors from the true population value because of sampling error. BLS analyses are generally conducted at the 90-percent level of confidence. The state data preserve the long-time practice of highlighting the direction of the movements in state union membership rates and levels regardless of their statistical significance.