Green Room

New York Accounts for 90 Percent of Union Membership Growth

posted at 2:01 pm on February 11, 2014 by

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual survey of union membership last month, and the 2013 numbers were not as bad as many thought. The overall union membership rate remained at 11.3 percent (technically, it fell from 11.26% to 11.25%), and unions grew by 162,000 members to 14,528,000.

The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and even the AFL-CIO focused on the gains in the private sector that were partially offset by losses in the public sector. Regional press reports highlighted state membership rates, but everyone failed to put the two together.

In 2013, almost 90 percent of union membership growth came from one state: New York.

According to BLS, New York added 213,000 jobs in 2013 and 145,000 union members – an astonishing marginal unionization rate of 68.1 percent. The entire rest of the nation added 1,320,000 jobs and 17,000 union members – a marginal unionization rate of 1.3 percent.

The BLS does not disaggregate its state data into public and private sectors, and I was unable to find it myself while digging through the Current Population Survey. However, last month the New York State Department of Labor released statistics that between December 2012 and December 2013 the state added only 110,000 private sector jobs and lost 13,000 public sector jobs.

Anomalies are normal when agencies compute statistics from different sources, but the New York numbers, coupled with the report of unexpected union membership gains in places like Michigan and Wisconsin, require at least a reexamination of this year’s BLS figures.

Recently in the Green Room:


Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.


Trackback URL


Q. How many New Yorkers does it take to change a light bulb.

A. Fifty. Fifty? Yeah. It’s in the contract. Wanna make something of it?

No Truce With Kings on February 11, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Thank God Texas is a Right To Work state!

DAT60A3 on February 11, 2014 at 2:16 PM

The BLS wouldn’t fudge the numbers would they?

odannyboy on February 11, 2014 at 4:47 PM

NY accounts for 90% of union growth?


I’m in Colorado.

Meremortal on February 11, 2014 at 6:26 PM

unions grew by 162,000 members to 14,528,000.

There’s no way this is correct. What’s the real number?

EdmundBurke247 on February 11, 2014 at 8:56 PM

I’m in Colorado.

Meremortal on February 11, 2014 at 6:26 PM

I’m in New York.

Could you do me a favor?

Drive by my house and just friggin’ shoot me.

Maddie on February 11, 2014 at 10:48 PM

Yup, and it’s primarily Hispanic and other minority immigrant groups.

Cleombrotus on February 12, 2014 at 6:29 AM

Cleombrotus on February 12, 2014 at 6:29 AM

In fifteen years, if the country lasts that long, they will OWN the New York labor pool.

Cleombrotus on February 12, 2014 at 6:30 AM

New York. Come for the high tax rate, stay for the steadily shrinking range of personal/individual freedoms. Open for business!*

*Unless you’re a conservative. Then, you’re not welcome. Ask the governor!

xNavigator on February 12, 2014 at 10:09 AM

We’re number one!

Nomennovum on February 12, 2014 at 1:35 PM