Green Room

2010 Census Is Bad News for Unions

posted at 7:40 pm on September 27, 2010 by

According to estimates from Election Data Services, the population figures from the 2010 census will lead to two lost U.S. House seats in New York and two in Ohio, and a gain of two seats for Florida and four for Texas. Each House seat is also equal to one electoral vote. 

Besides Florida and Texas, EDS estimates six other states will gain a single House seat: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

The first point of interest is that of the eight states with population growth sufficient to lead to increased congressional representation, four (Florida, Texas, Nevada and Washington) have no state income tax. 

While the population trends have gone from North and East to South and West for decades now, it may finally be reaching the point where it adversely affects America’s unions – not the private sector industrial unions, which are a small and shrinking part of the U.S. economy – but the public sector unions, which now constitute the majority of union members. 

Last March, the Cato Institute published a table that detailed “Union Shares of State and Local Government Employment.” I reproduce it here:


If you can’t read it clearly, New York unions have the highest “market share” of state and local government employees as members – 73 percent. And the rankings go all the way down to North Carolina in 50th place with 8 percent.

Here are the public sector union share percentages of the 10 states that lost seats in the census:

New York – 73%

Ohio – 44%

Illinois – 50%

Iowa – 31%

Louisiana – 13%

Massachusetts – 61%

Michigan – 58%

Missouri – 19%

New Jersey – 66%

Pennsylvania – 55%

The presence of Louisiana on the list is undoubtedly due to the mass displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina. And Missouri just barely lost a seat, to the benefit of Minnesota (55%).

Here are the public sector union share percentages of the 8 states that gained seats in the census:

Texas – 14%

Florida – 25%

Arizona – 22%

Georgia – 10%

Nevada – 37%

South Carolina – 9%

Utah – 17%

Washington – 59%

In short, 12 House seats (and electoral votes) went from states with an average government union share of 47 percent to states with an average government union share of 24 percent.

It’s much too simplistic to label this cause-and-effect. But the numbers describe the “effect” part of the equation clearly. People are not only moving from strong union states to weak union states, but from strong government union states to weak ones.

With both short- and long-term trends against them, organized labor really has but one weapon remaining: huge wads of cash. That might be enough to stave off disaster.

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Good one, Mike A. This is very interesting analysis — certainly inimical to the left’s narrative. Folks aren’t voting with their U-Haul trucks for the burdens of unionism — public or private — on their pocketbooks.

J.E. Dyer on September 27, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Yeah, but they’re trying to get rid of the electoral college and make it
mail order diploma mill.

Dhuka on September 27, 2010 at 10:14 PM

Good read.

JCred on September 27, 2010 at 10:48 PM

Thanks for this. I so enjoy reading well researched articles.

Greyledge Gal on September 28, 2010 at 7:26 AM

I’d like to see the corollary numbers for how long it takes to “get stuff done by government clerks” as a crosstab in each of the states as well.

Robert17 on September 28, 2010 at 7:59 AM

It will really only be bad news for Unions if the gain/loss of seats results in fewer or more “conservative” Democrats.

The next legislatures in the effected (affected?) States will gerrymander out the minority party Representative.

Hope for a complete sweep at the State level too.

jpmn on September 28, 2010 at 12:12 PM